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Bloggingheads
02-07-2008, 01:17 AM

somerandomdude
02-07-2008, 02:10 AM
When he talks about the war, Mickey Kaus really is extremely, extremely stupid. Shorter Kaus: if we assume that Iraq will turn into a peaceful, stable democracy, then the war will have been worth it!

Nate
02-07-2008, 03:36 AM
Awesome looking cake!

Was it any particular flavor?

david_d
02-07-2008, 03:49 AM
I rarely agree with Mickey Kaus, and I often suspect him of arguing in bad faith, but I do find him entertaining and I think he provides a service by doing his whole counterintuitive thing by getting people to think about things differently. But I found his advice to Obama to be rather silly. Why on Earth would Obama want to reverse himself and back the surge now, just as it's waning? Why on Earth would Obama want to start supporting the continued conflict in Iraq when it's still phenomenally unpopular? And although Petraeus has done a reasonably good job at tamping down violence in Iraq, it does seem to be on the rise again. If Obama were to become an surge supporter now and the violence were to greatly increase, he would be in a tough spot because now he'd be on the line as well. But if he endorses the surge now after having opposed it for so long, he looks like a Johnny-come-lately who only supported the thing after it seemed to work and then gets smacked around by Hillary for flipping on the war and by McCain in the general if he got there, which he almost certainly wouldn't, on the grounds that McCain was the one that had the right judgment first, etc. Wouldn't that be ironic? Now, supporting a long-time troop presence is one thing, but that wasn't the suggestion. Why support something like the surge that's going to be ending soon that can only hurt him? It makes little sense to me. Mickey, think this one through!

This said, I do think that Kaus is dead-on about Obama's campaign being the ideal vehicle for left-liberal change--non-threatening, unity message, and all the rest. For me, admittedly, this is a positive, but I grant the point. If I were Mickey, though, I wouldn't worry too much about a McCain Administration. Either Dem could beat him pretty soundly by just saying the word "immigration" in conjunction with "McCain" as often as possible. The more often you say it, the more you remind conservatives of St. John's original sin, and the more they get disillusioned. Clinton could probably pull this off smartly.

Eastwest
02-07-2008, 04:02 AM
MK about as enlightened as usual on Iraq. (EW rolls eyes, prays for the recruitment of more depth on the home team...)

Some tolerable inside baseball on the pseudo-science of the unpredictable (i.e. horse-race politics).

"Feiler Faster"... Good. I'm glad this now long-obvious "psychological stampeding of the citizenry sheep" phenomenon has gotten a name.

We find here how deeply sensitive is RW. See his "Plea for Civility" (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8605?in=01:05:41&out=01:06:56) where he grieves about someone (Ann Coulter, maybe?) refusing to be exposed to BHTV's notoriously abusive Commenter's Peanut Gallery. (BTW, RW goes on for some time about this with typical quietly humorous circumlocutions. I only DL'd the first fragment.)

Good DV for doing dishes, sweeping floors, etc. Sort of breakfast table chat quality.

Amiability Index = A;
Startling New Ideas Index = B-;
Thought-Provocation Index = B;
Minor Guilt-Tripping Index = B+
(Actually, this last category can be broken down into two sub-parts:
Sense of Shame with Respect to Oneself Sub-index = A-;
Dread of Blame with Respect to One's Peers Index = B.)

Yes, yes, three cheers for civility. Penance may be done by those to whom this applies (and you surely know who you are...) by forcing yourself to listen to three interviews on RW's Meaning-of-Life-TV..

EW

Nate
02-07-2008, 05:54 AM
Bob and Mickey are both stupid.

...and ugly.

...and naive.

...and evil.

...and beneath contempt.

Eastwest
02-07-2008, 06:30 AM
Good one, Nate.

With gratuitously-dispensed nastiness like that, not even I would think this an audience of interest. Keep it up and maybe BLTV will be reduced to BW and MK alternating doing "man-on-the-street" interviews.

Let me see: You're a plant from the deep-Right attempting to undermine pleasant, nuanced discussion by civilized Left, Right & Center literati?

Actually, that could explain the sorts of posts about which RW sighs so deeply.

Well, OK, at least now BLTV has an alibi. They can just explain departures from civility like that as authored by "infiltrators," "not one of ours," etc.

EW

Incompetence Dodger
02-07-2008, 06:48 AM
So, any guesses as to the identity of the titular uninvited guest (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8605?in=01:06:26&out=01:06:59)?

My first hunch was Jessica Valenti, but a couple of minutes later, Bob mentioned that the uninvited guest "isn't primarily a blogger." Plus, surely she of all people is aware of the, um, occasional incivility on bhTV.

Speaking of Ann Althouse, wow Mickey, well-played on the gratuitous shot.

To recap:
1. Female
2. Recommended by Mickey
3. Would have been a big catch for bhTV
4. Not primarily a blogger (inference: blogs on the side)
5. (inference) Hasn't been on bhTV before

Bloggin' Noggin
02-07-2008, 07:56 AM
Bob missed his chance -- if only he'd teared up right here, he'd have shown he has the skills to win Iowa:

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8605?in=01:10:22&out=01:10:36

ogieogie
02-07-2008, 08:52 AM
Awesome looking cake!

Was it any particular flavor?

Crow, with a dash of sage.

ogieogie
02-07-2008, 08:53 AM
Bob and Mickey are both stupid.

...and ugly.

...and naive.

...and evil.

...and beneath contempt.

Bob and Mickey are both very nice.

piscivorous
02-07-2008, 10:29 AM
While I don't have time at the present moment to directly address Mr Wright's incivility in the "Taking stock of the Iraq War, strategically and politically" segment or to counter the circular nature of his arguments in detail I shall return to them at a later point.

For those that might actually be interested in the actual effects of the surge this is a pretty good synopses Al Qaeda in Iraq's shrinking area of operations (http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/01/al_qaeda_in_iraqs_sh.php)

For those that might be interested in an analysis of the political complexity of Iraq this is an interesting read Inside Iraqi politics – Part 1. Examining the Iraqi executive branch (http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/02/inside_iraqi_politic.php)

Joel_Cairo
02-07-2008, 10:55 AM
I was very disappointed to hear that Mickey recently endorsed Hillary, especially since he already made an endorsement long ago (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/36?in=35:26&out=35:46). What's the deal Mickey? Whatever happened to loyalty? What's one little immigration bill between pals?

Bloggin' Noggin
02-07-2008, 11:09 AM
Without calling Mickey stupid, I agree with David that Mickey's advice to Obama on the surge seems way off-base. As far as I'm aware, the majority of the public (Dems and Indepentents and some Republicans) seem to regard Iraq as a big mistake even post-surge (my source for that is Andrew Sullivan's blog). Even if the wonks were all inclined to think as Mickey does, they wouldn't determine the outcome of the election. And in fact, many of the cognoscenti would side with Bob anyway regarding the surge. In fact, Bob goes too far in conceding that the surge "worked" -- it did decrease violence, but as a new strategy, it was supposed to support political reconciliation. And that doesn't seem to have happened.

Perhaps class-based affirmative action (replacing race-based) would indeed be a political winner. But from a policy point of view, I think race-based affirmative action of some sort is probably still justified. On that, see this excellent discussion on "Free Will" (http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8348?&in=00:46:50&out=00:57:37) -- or read Tim Harford's delightful book, _The Logic of Life_ (yes, another BH.tv book marketing coup -- one book sold!).
If black people are systematically (though not maliciously) discounted by employers, as the resume-experiment Harford mentions suggests, then race-based affirmative action makes sense. If employer's unthinking heuristics cause them systematically to discount equally qualified black applicants precisely because they are black, then race based AA appears to be needed simply to ensure that black applicants of equal qualifications will receive equal treatment. (Something is needed to make employers choose reflectively, not just rely on experientially based, but unfair, heuristics (i.e., stereotypes).)

Harford offers a more complicated rational-choice argument than what I say in the last paragraph, but I think once you grant that African Americans don't receive equal consideration in hiring simply because they are African American, then race-based Affirmative Action of some sort turns out, not to be "special treatment", but a means of equalizing treatment.

One might argue, though, that the experiment in question, which was based on resumes with stereotypical African American names ("Jamal," "Tonisha" etc.) may expose a (rational) class bias as much as racial bias. Middle class African Americans may be more likely to name their children "Glenn" or "John".) I wonder if there's some way to re-do the resume experiment controlling for that question.

Loved the cake, by the way!

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 11:12 AM
Crow, with a dash of sage.

Nice. Even better than the mousse.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 11:14 AM
EW:

Penance may be done by those to whom this applies (and you surely know who you are...) by forcing yourself to listen to three interviews on RW's Meaning-of-Life-TV..

Won't work. Some of us obnoxious louts love MoL.tv.

mojomojo
02-07-2008, 11:16 AM
Kaus has no respect for the (politically) departed. Is he still pushing this phoney story about an Edwards sex scandal? Maybe it is time that we really investigate his personal involvement in this scandal. Hmmmm. Maybe he has first-hand (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) knowledge.

Bobby G
02-07-2008, 11:24 AM
I don't understand why Mickey Kaus (or, for that matter, Ann Althouse, assuming she still is associated with BHTV) continues to contribute to bloggingheads. Near as I can tell, I'm the only person who likes his diavlogs. Only Robert Wright seems to like him personally, and I don't think Wright thinks Kaus has any worthwhile insights on anything. So ... why keep him around? I doubt very much that he would be missed.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 11:25 AM
Bob:

That Hector(ing) Milquetoast speech at the end of the diavlog was about as painful as anything I've sat through on this site. To your credit, you finally got around to acknowledging that some examples of offensive commentary would have been helpful. To your discredit, it took you nine hours and the beating around of a hectare of bushes to get there.

Your unwillingness to come right out and say what you found offensive in the comments was aggravated by your vagueness in discussing the consequences. It was at about this time that I began to suspect there was a method to your meandering: keep flitting about and speaking in generalities until every commenter who has ever said anything critical of any diavlogger felt guilty.

Either way, it was bad. You were either being passive or passive-aggressive, and I'm hard-pressed to say which trait I find more irritating. Such attitudes just get my hackles up -- by the time you got to talking about the supposed loss of a desirable guest, my immediate reaction was to say, "Good. Who needs another crybaby?" I'm not saying there is anything mature or proper about my reaction. I am saying that your approach yielded results counterproductive to achieving your stated goal.

All right, maybe you didn't want to name names during the diavlog, since giving examples might have been seen as singling people out unfairly. Clearly, you're leery of inhibiting spirited debate. These are both positive motivations. I also think it's a very good thing that you don't, as a rule, delete comments that you find distasteful. However, there are four things I wish you would keep in mind.

First: You're a long-time proponent of preferring social ostracizing to explicit legislation. If I say something obnoxious, then, why not let the rest of the commenters put me in my place? Why can't you point out to the thin-skinned guests, "Yes, Brendan was out of line, but note that ten people immediately jumped on him for it?"

Second: As long as you and the diavloggers are reading the comments, why not post a response, instead of just lurking? I'll give you long odds that if you or someone else said, "I found your comment offensive and uncalled for, and here's why ...," you'd get an immediate apology in response. At the very least, you'd certainly stimulate a flood of agreement from other readers.

Third: Really, what is the big deal if some stupid commenter says something stupid? The overwhelming majority of people who participate in this site's forums will recognize it as such, and dismiss it accordingly. As Mickey pointed out, boorishness is self-revealing. I expect diavloggers to be at least as capable as commenters at reading for context.

Fourth: What's with the coddling of the guests? These are people speaking in a public space. Ideally, yes, I agree with you -- they should be attacked only for their expressed ideas, and not for banalities like personal appearance. But I say this to the offended diavloggers:

This is the real world -- if you put yourself in the spotlight, you have to accept the risk of the occasional rotten tomato. Either see this as no big deal (since it isn't), or stay off the stage. Or, do what John McWhorter advises: don't spend your time reading comments to begin with. I don't like this attitude of John's, but it's a sight better than making a big deal about being offended at what you might read, and then not doing anything about it, except whining to Bob offline.

Back to addressing you, Bob ...

I did agree with you when you said that we should consider statements made in the forum to be the same as statements made face-to-face. I do always try to keep this in mind, and I sign my real name to everything I post anywhere online for that very reason. But there's a flip side to this thesis: if what I say about a diavlogger is equivalent to saying it to his or her face, and it's offensive, then it behooves the diavlogger to let me know. In a face-to-face encounter, we have the advantage of non-verbal cues. In written communication, of course, we do not. Therefore, an offended party has to make the (small) effort to post a response, to let me know that I screwed up. At the very least, the offended party could ask you to intervene on his or her behalf, if he or she is afraid of encouraging more flames.

Granted, the First Commandment of online forums is Don't Feed The Trolls. But I think the difference is obvious between a commenter who is being a troll, and a commenter who is basically a good person who has, on this occasion, gone too far. Assuming the latter, then let that commenter know -- either leave it to the rest of the forum participants, say something yourself, or encourage the offended diavlogger to say something directly. There is even the site's Private Message function, if you or the diavlogger doesn't want to squabble in public. Whatever the channel, how else do we learn to improve our social behavior except by getting feedback?

If I was out of line, here or elsewhere, I'll be happy to hear about it, and eager to apologize.

uncle ebeneezer
02-07-2008, 11:28 AM
They should've gone retro with the cake. All (2-shade) green. Pretty impressive though.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 11:39 AM
I'd guess David Frum and Eli Lake might support Bob's plea.

Dunno about David Frum, but Eli's a good man. I'll never forget when he started off a diavlog by saying, "BloggingHeads viewers, you can't stop me. You can only hope to contain me."

As violently as I disagree with Eli on matters of policy, I think he has class.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 11:45 AM
ID:

Speaking of Ann Althouse, wow Mickey, well-played on the gratuitous shot.

To coin a phrase: heh, indeed.

So, any guesses as to the identity of the titular uninvited guest?

...

To recap:
1. Female
2. Recommended by Mickey
3. Would have been a big catch for bhTV
4. Not primarily a blogger (inference: blogs on the side)
5. (inference) Hasn't been on bhTV before


Ann Coulter is the obvious first guess, but I just can't see her being afraid of a little flaming. Therefore, I guess: Condoleezza Rice or the woman whom Mickey thinks is carrying John Edwards's baby.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 11:48 AM
Bobby G:

Naw. I used to like Mickey a lot, and after being in a rut for a while, his last couple of appearances have indicated that he might be climbing out. I don't find anything useful in his views on the Iraq War or immigration, and I frequently suspect him of pushing an ongoing agenda to sabotage the Democratic Party, but I do like some of his contrarian observations. Plus, there's no denying that he and Bob have chemistry -- if nothing else, it's fun to hear them banter.

Bobby G
02-07-2008, 11:49 AM
Brendan wrote, "if what I say about a diavlogger is equivalent to saying it to his or her face, and it's offensive, then it behooves the diavlogger to let me know. In a face-to-face encounter, we have the advantage of non-verbal cues."

I'd be curious to know why you think it matters that you offend someone. For instance, you wrote of Rick Arndt: "five minutes of listening to him made me think there's a possibility that he has been so successful in brainwashing his offspring that he's made them impotent"; "The one positive thing that can be said about Rick Arndt is that Rod Dreher no longer has to hold the top slot on the BH.tv List of Creeps"; "I find the notion of procreating fourteen children repulsive and irresponsible"; "Arndt's creation of a cult by insulating his kids from the outside world is nothing short of child abuse"; and that's just a few things.

Surely you don't need non-verbal cues to think that such comments would offend Arndt if he read them? You know this, and of course you don't care. Perhaps rightfully. So...why do you even say that if a diavlogger is offended by something you say, he/she should let you know? So you can tell him/her more directly that he/she is an immoral monster/idiot?

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 11:54 AM
While I don't have time at the present moment to directly address ...

Someone's been spending too much time reading Jonah.

;^)

jmcnulty
02-07-2008, 12:00 PM
Some people go to college and never get over it, going through life thinking that they are superior to the "great unwashed" who watch Fox News (this does not apply to black voters -- a long as they vote Democratic -- who are unformly virtuous regardless of educational level).

The mystery blogger who bowed out of Bloggingheads.tv is unlikely to have been Ann Coulter because (1) her appearance would have caused palpitations for Boib Wright and (2) she has the skin thickness of a armadillo and would be unlikely to have been deterred by hostile comments. How could she turn down Bloggingheads.tv for commenters calling her "stupid" when Republicans have called her much worse in the past week?

A solid Bloggingheads.tv episode, thankfully lacking in the academic esoterica of some episodes featuring "think-tank" denizens. Excellent soundings on the state of the campaign.

Namazu
02-07-2008, 12:10 PM
Gosh, I hope the comments didn't chase away Camille Paglia! Say it ain't so! I assume you are trying to book her, aren't you?

Joel_Cairo
02-07-2008, 12:18 PM
Regarding David Frum and Eli Lake, I just mentioned them because it seems to me that they're subjected to personal attack here more than most (at least among the male guests). Of course, their skin must be sufficiently thick since they keep coming back for more.

How about that lady who talked about GWB as being the "consummate adult" because he saw everything in only black and white?

I expect we shan't be seeing more of her.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 12:38 PM
Bobby G:

That's fair, what you said about my statements on Arndt. Two things:

First: I did get a lot of blowback for what I said. This supports the part of my argument where I said diavloggers should be able to recognize the social ostracizing of one commenter by the rest.

Second: In general, I do not wish to insult any diavlogger personally. I have been harsh about some of them, in reaction to their ideas (or lack of ideas, in a couple of cases), but I don't think I've said anything that was otherwise personally insulting. I may, of course, be wrong about this, so that's why I ask for feedback.

The general principle, however, does not for me apply to Arndt. I did wish to insult him personally, I won't apologize for anything I said (at least none of what you quoted). and I would love the chance to say to his face what I said about him. If I hurt his feelings, I'm happy. I found him that offensive, and I felt strongly enough about this that I wanted other people to shun him, too.

So...why do you even say that if a diavlogger is offended by something you say, he/she should let you know? So you can tell him/her more directly that he/she is an immoral monster/idiot?

You're probably right about this particular instance. There might not have been much of an upside for Arndt to respond to me directly. My words could have been looked at as the ranting of a loon and the safe bet would have been that nothing useful could result.

On the other hand, maybe there could have been some gain for him. He is a professional proselytizer, after all. Maybe he could have shown me the error of my ways, or at least won himself some more support from the rest of the readers. Maybe, even, he could have learned something from hearing my point of view that would have made him question his own cherished notions.

But the truth is, guys like him never engage with their critics and they never want to reexamine their beliefs. They speak only when they're in sole possession of the microphone, and afterwards, they scurry offstage, surround themselves with security, and re-immerse themselves in sycophants.

I had no illusions, therefore, that I'd get a response from him. But, as I said, I wanted others to feel about him the way I do, and it did feel good to vent my spleen.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 12:43 PM
How about that lady who talked about GWB as being the "consummate adult" because he saw everything in only black and white?

I expect we shan't be seeing more of her.

You're probably right, Joel. On the other hand, I don't recall anything bad being said about her beyond how boneheaded her ideas were, and how insular her worldview was, both of which strike me as eminently within the bounds.

Eastwest
02-07-2008, 12:47 PM
1) It's obvious the "uninvited guest" was MK as he didn't make the BHTV cake-party. All one has to do is actually listen to the episode to know that.

2) I was, of course, just joking about "Ann Coulter" being the mystery person whose sensitivities were so challenged by the sea of uncivilized verbiage churning like a threatening tsunami beneath the pictures of all BHTV "guests" that this "mystery shrinking violet" took a pass on participating. (And viewing today's comments, I can't blame her.) I'm actually disappointed.

OK, in the interests of genuine variety, Camille Paglia would be an OK start, though she really lost me when she as much as elevated Joni Mitchell's "parking lot" tune to "most meaningful poetry of all time" category. (I'm exaggerating again, but only barely... I think this was on Christopher Lydon's "Open Source"?)

But seriously, was really hoping to see the recruitment of a wider range of "guest" personnel, folks able to do something more than chew on the swelling corpses of yesterday's political horse-race news, more folks whose minds stray to some other territory besides Left-Right politics and the "throw the white coats a bone" Science-Saturday yammer.

EW

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 12:48 PM
Gosh, I hope the comments didn't chase away Camille Paglia! Say it ain't so! I assume you are trying to book her, aren't you?

If it was Camille, say it is so. I'm still recovering from the last time I tried to read something she wrote.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 12:51 PM
But seriously, was really hoping to see the recruitment of a wider range of "guest" personnel, folks able to do something more than chew on the swelling corpses of yesterday's political horse-race news, more folks whose minds stray to some other territory besides Left-Right politics and the "throw the white coats a bone" Science-Saturday yammer.

Well, I usually love "Science Saturday," and given the season, no amount of horse-race coverage is too much for me. But I do agree that it would be nice to seek out new guests and broaden the range of topics discussed.

zookarama
02-07-2008, 12:54 PM
am I the only one who recognizes irony? sheesh

and the uninvited guest is Madelin Albright.

you're welcome

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 12:54 PM
jm:

Some people go to college and never get over it, going through life thinking that they are superior to the "great unwashed" who watch Fox News ...

In fact, we do not think there is anything great about people who watch Fox News. Unless it's those who watch for purposes of fisking, of course.

Bloggin' Noggin
02-07-2008, 01:00 PM
Fourth: What's with the coddling of the guests? These are people speaking in a public space. Ideally, yes, I agree with you -- they should be attacked only for their expressed ideas, and not for banalities like personal appearance. But I say this to the offended diavloggers:

This is the real world -- if you put yourself in the spotlight, you have to accept the risk of the occasional rotten tomato. Either see this as no big deal (since it isn't), or stay off the stage. Or, do what John McWhorter advises: don't spend your time reading comments to begin with. I don't like this attitude of John's, but it's a sight better than making a big deal about being offended at what you might read, and then not doing anything about it, except whining to Bob offline.

I don't know -- BH.tv is not 60 Minutes and the guests don't get paid like Mike Wallace. How far are these people "putting themselves in the spotlight"?

I'd suggest the standard that would reasonably apply within the comments section itself : a) try to eschew ad hominem attacks against guests, just as we should avoid them when it comes to other commenters, b) try to respond to the person himself and what he actually says, not what other people of what you perceive to be his ilk have said and c) try not to be more uncivil than the person you're replying to.
In the case of Arndt, you differed with his lifestyle, so it might seem impossible to draw the line between political argument and personal attack. But I think there's a difference between saying that his lifestyle would be dangerous if he got everyone to adopt it and saying that it is "repulsive." The former is something he could argue against, the latter is purely emotive and a definite personal attack. I may not like it if somebody tells me homosexuality is "dangerous" or "wrong", but there's room for discussion there. If someone calls it (or me) "repulsive", what can I say except, "so's your mother!"?
Arndt was clear that he didn't approve of homosexuality, but he was extremely civil in his statement of this position. You perceived this as speaking in code, and therefore you gave him no credit for his civility. But how can one distinguish civility from speaking in code without some kind of telepathic connection? Since his statements were civil, I would take his civility at face value and disagree with him on this civilly. If he had said, "God hates fags," then sure, it would be open season, but he didn't say that, so I wouldn't call his life choices "repulsive" in response.

Regarding point (b), I might mention that I recall being attacked by a certain commenter (who doesn't seem to have posted in a long time) along the lines of "that response shows a lot about you," and he didn't mean it in a nice way. What I was saying somehow showed me to be one of those (perhaps mythical) hippies who spat on returning Vietnam vets or something. I have to say I didn't enjoy that: how can one really even respond to it? It took away my pleasure in participating in the discussion. As I see it, there's not that huge a difference between us posters and the diavloggers here -- the main reason to do it is the intrinsic pleasure of having the discussion (and perhaps getting practice presenting themselves in this format). The largely self-imposed rules that govern discussion here probably should govern our reactions to the diavloggers. When BHtv starts paying the diavloggers what NBC pays Tim Russert, then we can be just as nasty as we like. They can afford any knocks to their self-esteem at that point.

I see Bob as recognizing that the general civility here is achieved mostly by the commenters' own self-restraint, and I see his plea for civility as no more than an attempt to get us commenters to recognize that the diavloggers themselves should be included in our "community" -- even if they don't explicitly take part in the comments.

Bloggin' Noggin
02-07-2008, 01:04 PM
Kaus has no respect for the (politically) departed. Is he still pushing this phoney story about an Edwards sex scandal? Maybe it is time that we really investigate his personal involvement in this scandal. Hmmmm. Maybe he has first-hand (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) knowledge.

Mickey's pregnant?

jmcnulty
02-07-2008, 01:09 PM
I never said that there was anything admirable in watching Fox News and never implied that there was. You are deliberating missing the point. I was just saying that there should be no effort to separate oneself, based on some disfavored activity (like bowling).

I think Daily Kos is full of self-important cranks, but I would not characterize everyone who posts there as one or feel superior to anyone there.

We should be contending based on the quality of our ideas, not some meaningless class distinction that allows one to assume a pedestal because of an advanced degree. The quality of the ideas here is often good -- even when I do not agree with them -- but there is often a troubling whiff of intellectual elitism.

TwinSwords
02-07-2008, 01:10 PM
First of all, I think Bob was really talking about gratuitous personal attacks that have nothing to do with the ideas being discussed. I don't think he was asking anyone to tone down their criticism of ideas (in fact he was explicit about this). I am 99% sure he was referring to comments about personal appearance, and I happen to agree with him that these comments are beyond the pale and I would support deleting them. Aside from that, I think anything else should be allowed.

This is not that different from, say, the rules governing calls to C-SPAN. You can sit there and call the person a Nazi or a traitor or a racist or anything else, but as soon as you say they are a fat slob or ask why their hair is so greasy, you're going to get cut off. That's as it should be.



First: I did get a lot of blowback for what I said. This supports the part of my argument where I said diavloggers should be able to recognize the social ostracizing of one commenter by the rest.
You did get a lot of blowback, but as "offensive" as your comments were, I was happy you posted them. They were CLEARLY said in the context of Arndt's extremist views. Those harsh remarks were a direct response to the subjects Arndt was invited to discuss. To be completely honest, I was very happy to read every word you wrote in that thread.

I have met more than a few extremist Christians like Arndt, and didn't see anything in any of your Arndt posts that didn't ring entirely true. Those people really are off the deep end and you characterized them perfectly.



The general principle, however, does not for me apply to Arndt. I did wish to insult him personally, I won't apologize for anything I said (at least none of what you quoted). and I would love the chance to say to his face what I said about him. If I hurt his feelings, I'm happy.
This right here gets to the crux of the problem with Bob's request for civility. I happen to totally support it (despite my own transgressions), but as soon as some commenters hear that harsh words are painful to the target, that will double their desire to say harsh things. That's the whole reason people say mean and nasty things in the first place: They hate the target and want to make them suffer. Advertising that it works (as Bob did) may have the unintended effect of increasing the problem.

I hope not: I hope people will avoid making comments about the personal appearance of the Bloggingheads and stick to discussion of the issues, as you did with Arndt. (And yes, to anyone who doesn't think you were discussing the issues, calling someone crazy is in bouds, as it is a characterization of a belief set.)

Bloggin' Noggin
02-07-2008, 01:11 PM
I had no illusions, therefore, that I'd get a response from him. But, as I said, I wanted others to feel about him the way I do, and it did feel good to vent my spleen.

But of course, an unintended consequence of that is that possibly good guests will not find Bob's munificent payments are worth the potential blow to their self-esteem. If you liked the guest, YOU wouldn't attack them, of course, but they may not know that ahead of time.

uncle ebeneezer
02-07-2008, 01:16 PM
Does this mystery guest go on television, or write articles that have "comments" or another type of feedback? I guess I'm just wondering why BHTV would be any different (except for the fact that this comment section is FAR nicer than most.) At least she didn't come on BHTV and cry to get votes.

Hopefully, this mystery gal will realize we're not so bad and come on and share the fun. If not, well, there's plenty of other great guests who will.

Great diavlog as always.

PS when will Hillary or Obama come out with the point that maybe that the surge is only one small element of the war, and that even if it is "working" (which is debatable), that it still hardly justify continuing the whole mess.

Bloggin' Noggin
02-07-2008, 01:17 PM
How about that lady who talked about GWB as being the "consummate adult" because he saw everything in only black and white?

I expect we shan't be seeing more of her.

Uh-oh. I think I feel a guilty conscience coming on. Where can I find some of my own medicine?

TwinSwords
02-07-2008, 01:39 PM
As I see it, there's not that huge a difference between us posters and the diavloggers here

I think Bob should recruit some of the posters to do diavlogs. Candidates I'd be most interested in hearing from would be bjkeefe, Eastwest, Wolfgangus, Wonderment, Abu Noor al Irlandee, piscivorous, McNulty, you, and many others.

Since all a blogginghead needs is a camera and an Internet connection, it could be easily done, and I think it would be a big hit with everyone.

Alas: I doubt it will ever happen. But we've got a lot of smart people here in this forum, and it would be great to see some of them on the other side of the camera.

TwinSwords
02-07-2008, 01:43 PM
But of course, an unintended consequence of that is that possibly good guests will not find Bob's munificent payments are worth the potential blow to their self-esteem. If you liked the guest, YOU wouldn't attack them, of course, but they may not know that ahead of time.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the clear intent of a lot of critics in the comments section; they are quite explicit that not only should so-and-so never return, but they proceed to bash Bob for inviting them in the first place, for "ruining" the site by allowing such a dolt to appear, etc. etc. etc.

It seems at least half the diavlogs start off with a spat of intolerant comments demanding that one of the participants never be allowed to return. Some notable examples are Althouse, Frum, Lake, and Doughy Pantload.

TwinSwords
02-07-2008, 01:54 PM
I think Daily Kos is full of self-important cranks, but I would not characterize everyone who posts there as one or feel superior to anyone there.
Everyplace is full of self-important cranks. You're describing human nature. Outside of a Buddhist monastery, perhaps, everyone believes in their own superiority. Everyone thinks their own life experience and knowledge, whatever the source, trumps that of others.

Tell me with a straight face that the people attacking elites in ivory towers are not doing exactly what you condemn in the posters at Daily Kos: attacking the other and discrediting their knowledge and experience.



The quality of the ideas here is often good -- even when I do not agree with them -- but there is often a troubling whiff of intellectual elitism.
No one will disagree that it is the quality of ideas that should be examined rather than their provenance. But human nature is what it is: people are emotionally attached to their own ideas and feel superior to their opponents. There's just no way around it. If the person you disagree with is an intellectual, you'll credibly be able to accuse them of intellectual elitism. If the person you disagree with is an uneducated hick, you'll credibly be able to accuse them of being uneducated rube.

You might as well complain that people frown when they hear someone say something they disagree with. Better to focus on real issues than try to change human nature.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 02:08 PM
BN:

I don't know -- BH.tv is not 60 Minutes and the guests don't get paid like Mike Wallace.

They may not make the same pile of cash, but they do get rewarded. Depending on their particular values and circumstances, here's a partial list of their potential compensations: Publicity for one's new book, publicity for one's blog, web site, or other writing, promotion of one's agenda, general face time that enhances one's career network and builds one's brand, the opportunity to express one's ideas to an audience, the opportunity to interview or debate another smart (usually) person, ...

... and last but not least, the chance to impress me. ;^)

How far are these people "putting themselves in the spotlight"?

How are they not? They're appearing on a video recording presented on a web site that has absolutely no barriers to entry for the audience. It's no different from appearing on regular TV.

I'd suggest the standard that would reasonably apply within the comments section itself : a) try to eschew ad hominem attacks against guests, just as we should avoid them when it comes to other commenters, b) try to respond to the person himself and what he actually says, not what other people of what you perceive to be his ilk have said and c) try not to be more uncivil than the person you're replying to.

I find nothing to disagree with here. I do reserve the right to bend the rules a bit if the person in question -- commenter or diavlogger -- has a history of obnoxiousness, and/or expresses a particularly offensive idea. Then again, you are also entirely right to call me on any perceived transgressions.

In the case of Arndt ...

There's not much else I can, or want to, say about this. I accept that you and others think I crossed the line, I acknowledge that my attacks were personal, and I sincerely thank you all for your feedback. In almost any other case, I probably would have apologized and shut up. But, sorry, I just don't feel that obligation in this one instance.

But how can one distinguish civility from speaking in code without some kind of telepathic connection?

From experience in dealing with others of his kind and from the ability of humans to pick up additional information from non-verbal cues. I'll grant that I probably attributed more to him than I had solid evidence for, but I'd also bet a large amount of money that I was right about everything I said about his real meaning. And I almost never bet.

Since his statements were civil, I would take his civility at face value and disagree with him on this civilly.

[Please don't read any of the following as sarcastic. It's not.] Good for you. I usually try to be like this, as well, although I do admit that I'm probably inherently a bit more abrasive than you are. You're a polite person, and I oscillate between wishing I were, too, and disliking myself for not speaking up and speaking out more often.

I think I've told you on more than one occasion that I have abandoned hope that my ideological enemies can be dealt with exclusively in a civil manner, and am now of the opinion that it is sometimes necessary to fight fire with fire. I also think you're aware that I am impatient with a fetish for tolerance -- right or wrong, I feel no need to grant equal treatment to a sufficiently heinous point of view.

Regarding point (b), I might mention that I recall being attacked by a certain commenter ... It took away my pleasure in participating in the discussion.

I know what you mean, and I feel bad when these things happen. I don't recall the incident in question; if I did, I'd like to think that I would have jumped in on your behalf and in the interest of community policing. However, as I said in my original post, expressing one's opinion in a public space means running some risks. This is not to excuse the bad apples, only to insist that their existence be recognized as an inescapable reality. Nothing to do but either hope the good outweights the bad, or find another place to hang out.

The largely self-imposed rules that govern discussion here probably should govern our reactions to the diavloggers.

Agreed. And, I think they do, for the overwhelming majority of commenters.

When BHtv starts paying the diavloggers what NBC pays Tim Russert, then we can be just as nasty as we like. They can afford any knocks to their self-esteem at that point.

Disagree. I have never bought into the idea that making more or less money for appearing on a stage, whether one is a talking head or any other kind of performer, should have anything to do with how they're treated. I grant the reality of financial compensation being a motivator for someone to continue exposing him- or herself to heat, but in my own system of values, I don't think what someone is getting paid has anything to do with how much guff they should have to put up with from the peanut gallery. I'll make a small exception in the case of things like Little Leaguers and school pageant players versus pro athletes and actors, of course.

Russert's not a good example for me, since I have no strong feelings one way or the other about him. Let's consider, instead, Bill O'Reilly. If someone like him came on BH.tv (for free) and talked about being in a restaurant where, amazingly, no one said, "Motherfucker, I want more iced tea," should we treat that person with more kindness, since he's not making millions? On the flip side, I wouldn't say anything (more) about, say, Ann Althouse if she took Russert's job than I have on this site. I wouldn't watch her, of course, but you get my point -- I wouldn't be one of those people who talked about her hair or face or clothes or body or whatever, and I wouldn't think well of anyone else who did.

I see Bob as recognizing that the general civility here is achieved mostly by the commenters' own self-restraint, and I see his plea for civility as no more than an attempt to get us commenters to recognize that the diavloggers themselves should be included in our "community" -- even if they don't explicitly take part in the comments.

Since I really like Bob, I can charitably interpret that plea, and I think you're right about his motivations. Still, and because I like him, I also feel obliged to point out when he boots one.

As for the diavloggers being part of the community, though, eh, not so much. Some of them, sure. But many of them, like Mickey for example, apparently have no interest in what the commenters say about them and clearly have no wish to engage. It's obvious from how many of them speak on camera that they think of themselves as separate from the audience. This belief doesn't change my agreement about the goodness of keeping it civil, mind. I'm just disputing that the diavloggers, in general, see themselves as part of us.

Bloggin' Noggin
02-07-2008, 02:10 PM
Unfortunately, that seems to be the clear intent of a lot of critics in the comments section; they are quite explicit that not only should so-and-so never return, but they proceed to bash Bob for inviting them in the first place, for "ruining" the site by allowing such a dolt to appear, etc. etc. etc.

It seems at least half the diavlogs start off with a spat of intolerant comments demanding that one of the participants never be allowed to return. Some notable examples are Althouse, Frum, Lake, and Doughy Pantload.

Yes, you're right, many want to discourage the current guest from being asked to return, but the unintended consequence is that they may be discouraging someone else from ever starting. You never see the guests who didn't come.

I've never been all that clear why people should want to shut these people up, especially on BHtv, where you probably don't have guests knocking down Bob's door, and where you are more likely to actually make them defend themselves.
I was annoyed at the News Hour when they had John Yoo on as an "expert" after the torture memos came out, but if they'd had him on to defend the memos (which he refused to discuss at the time), I would have thought it worthwhile, even though I find him (morally) distasteful.

EricP
02-07-2008, 02:13 PM
Just wanted to substantiate Bob's claim about Obama's b-ball skills: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1kuj9yeg1o

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 02:20 PM
I never said that there was anything admirable in watching Fox News and never implied that there was. You are deliberating missing the point.

Jiminy Circkets, do I have to put a smiley face at the end of EVERY post where I'm teasing you? Maybe it wasn't one of the world's all-time funnies, but for pete's sake, lighten up and learn how to recognize when someone is being obviously and intentionally ridiculous.

I was just saying that there should be no effort to separate oneself, based on some disfavored activity (like bowling).

What do you have against bowlers? <-- THAT WAS A JOKE.

As for seriously responding to the rest of what you said, Twin already said most of what I could have said, and better. One thing, though -- what set you off on the intellectual elitism tirade in the first place? Maybe I'm not following what you were replying to, but from the threaded view, it seemed like a response to nothing that appeared above it.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 02:25 PM
uncle eb:

PS when will Hillary or Obama come out with the point that maybe that the surge is only one small element of the war, and that even if it is "working" (which is debatable), that it still hardly justify continuing the whole mess.

Not soon enough for my taste. Probably not until they can say so in a good sound bite, and probably not then, either. The CW is that the Iraq debacle has faded as a top concern among voters, for one, and for another, the problem with criticizing the war (for Obama, especially), is that it's too easy for the other side to say, "Oh, yeah? What's your solution, then?" Not really meaningful, but it does tend to resonate.

Besides, most anyone who is against the war is never going to vote for any of the Republicans.

I wish they'd talk more about the war, but I expect that their political calculations tell them it's not the best campaign strategy.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 02:29 PM
Twin:

Thanks for chiming in, and thanks for seeing (and expressing) the distinction between my personal attacks on Arndt and other kinds of personal attacks.

This right here gets to the crux of the problem with Bob's request for civility. I happen to totally support it (despite my own transgressions), but as soon as some commenters hear that harsh words are painful to the target, that will double their desire to say harsh things. That's the whole reason people say mean and nasty things in the first place: They hate the target and want to make them suffer. Advertising that it works (as Bob did) may have the unintended effect of increasing the problem.

I take your point, and I think you're right about a lot of forums. But I have BH.tv elitism: I think we're better than those other sites. Sure, we do have a couple of trolls, and some of us may get out of hand once in a while, but I don't think Bob risked a backfire from his plea.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 02:38 PM
But of course, an unintended consequence of that is that possibly good guests will not find Bob's munificent payments are worth the potential blow to their self-esteem. If you liked the guest, YOU wouldn't attack them, of course, but they may not know that ahead of time.

True. But, again, Arndt was a unique case. If some potential diavlogger jumped into a random forum and read my words, I hardly think I'd scare him or her off. Ditto just about every other commenter.

And if not, well ... I guess the old line about the heat and the kitchen applies. I got no patience for prima donnas.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 02:41 PM
Unfortunately, that seems to be the clear intent of a lot of critics in the comments section; they are quite explicit that not only should so-and-so never return, but they proceed to bash Bob for inviting them in the first place, for "ruining" the site by allowing such a dolt to appear, etc. etc. etc.

It seems at least half the diavlogs start off with a spat of intolerant comments demanding that one of the participants never be allowed to return. Some notable examples are Althouse, Frum, Lake, and Doughy Pantload.

I'm of two minds about this. I do see what you're saying, but I also think it's fair to express the desire that a guest stop taking up time and bandwidth. Why not tell the site's proprietors that we'd rather have someone else more worthwhile? Why should we suffer in silence? And wouldn't Bob rather have me here than staying away?

Personally, I only ask for dismissal of the vacuous diavloggers. I am not one of those who votes against Frum or Lake. (Personal insult by omission!)

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 02:43 PM
Uh-oh. I think I feel a guilty conscience coming on. Where can I find some of my own medicine?


Wipes coffee off of nose, keyboard, and screen.
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bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 02:50 PM
Twin:

I think Bob should recruit some of the posters to do diavlogs.

I have a feeling that doing a diavlog is a lot harder than it looks. Speaking for myself, I am a lot more comfortable debating via text -- it's hard for me to get my thoughts out in real time, sometimes.

But I do find the concept intriguing, and I think we should think about trying to pull it off. We could always post on YouTube.

Even better: the thought of comments by the (original) diavloggers -- if we got good enough, we have a regular Backwards Day on BH.tv where, say, you and I get to bloviate and Frum, Lake, York, Kaus, et al, rip us apart. (And Rosa Brooks and Glenn Loury praise our erudition.)

Wonderment
02-07-2008, 03:01 PM
Eva Braun, Hitler's mistress, is the obvious choice. She read posters' comparisons between Der Führer's views and those of David Frum and felt her husband had been slandered.

If I'm wrong on that, I'd go with any Mexican woman in the USA, afraid of the Mickey "illegal" smear.

Then there's John McCain's mother who hates it when you call her boy a crazed warmonger, or Mrs. Huckabee who finds the epithet "scientist" offensive and has never heard the word "fuck."

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 03:05 PM
Best post of the thread!

Wonderment
02-07-2008, 03:06 PM
I never heard of MK before discovering BHTV, so I only know him as a gossip columnist, smear artist and anti-Mexican bully.

It seems like Bob has a long relationship with him, where Mickey's role is to play devil's advocate to Bob's political views.

Mickey is smart and funny though, so you gotta wonder why he ended up wasting a good mind writing a silly column at Slate. He must have some kind of decent resume to get that job, but why would he want it?

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 03:10 PM
... especially on BHtv, where you probably don't have guests knocking down Bob's door ...

I have no data, of course, but my instinct is just the opposite.

Maybe not desirable guests, though ...

Joel_Cairo
02-07-2008, 03:11 PM
Besides, most anyone who is against the war is never going to vote for any of the Republicans.


Dunno about that actually. Remember the most recent Free Will? According to NH exit polls, McCain does quite well indeed with people disgruntled about the war...

Wonderment
02-07-2008, 03:19 PM
This right here gets to the crux of the problem with Bob's request for civility. I happen to totally support it (despite my own transgressions), but as soon as some commenters hear that harsh words are painful to the target, that will double their desire to say harsh things. That's the whole reason people say mean and nasty things in the first place: They hate the target and want to make them suffer. Advertising that it works (as Bob did) may have the unintended effect of increasing the problem.

I agree. Bob's impassioned call for civility has much merit, and I think he stumbled around with it because he was trying to collect his thoughts in an honest and compassionate way. I thought he did a great job of communicating his concerns, which are legitimate.

Having said that, I also agree that some guests make a career out of provocation. If Jonah Goldberg writes a book whose title is a colossal GO FUCK YOURSELF to many of us who post here, it is not surprising that people will laugh at his pomposity.

If a guy like Frum, who is an apologist for what many of us view as war crimes and sundry atrocities, comes on smirking and demeaning progressives as "crazies," he should not be surprised when posters are outraged.

To Mickey's credit he at least realizes that his anti-Mexican rants will piss people off. He doesn't expect hugs and kisses in return.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 03:21 PM
Dunno about that actually. Remember the most recent Free Will? According to NH exit polls, McCain does quite well indeed with people disgruntled about the war...

Yeah, but that's Republicans voting for him, when compared to the other Republicans. It's also not clear that's why they voted for McCain in the first place. I could well imagine someone who thought Romney was a fake, Huckabee a flake, and Rudy a snake, and choosing the least worst.

I acknowledge it was an open primary, but I think the turnout numbers indicate that not too many Democrats crossed over to vote for McCain. And of those who did, I'd be willing to bet that at least some did so more out of a desire to vote against one of the other Republicans -- being happy (or apathetic) about any of the Democratic choices.

Finally, I'm not saying it's 100%. I'm sure there are some independents and Dems who prefer McCain, for whatever reason (the MSM-fed St. Maverick McStraightTalk image, I'd wager). I just think that the overwhelming majority of people who are against the war are not going to vote Republican this time around.

threep
02-07-2008, 03:37 PM
I feel almost certain it was Camille Paglia, she has a history of backing out of hostile waters.

Tao Jones
02-07-2008, 04:04 PM
Another possible evolutionary psychology explanation for the "expectations game." In our hunter gatherer tribal background, where the human mind evolved, one would want to keep up to date on what to expect politically, so as to adapt to presumed leadership of one's tribe. Wouldn't this be some kind of predecessor to modern futures markets? Of course, in modern times, it is not clear how one could adapt to either Clinton or Obama leadership, so that portion of the picture might be missing.

For media sources, better predictions can raise an entity's status and power. This seems a little simpler explanation than Bob's, but he probably knows better than me...

Happy Hominid
02-07-2008, 04:30 PM
I was thinking it might be Ann Coulter. But I guess Mickey would have known she was a potential guest even before Bob did. Plus, she must be pretty thick skinned.

Happy Hominid
02-07-2008, 04:34 PM
While I often disagree with Mickey, I think he makes a great guest. If Bob had someone to agree with there would be no fun. I have 2 regular segments that I never miss - Bob and Mickey and Science Saturday.

Namazu
02-07-2008, 05:06 PM
Bob:

Next time, rather than reminding us that (yes, Virginia) posting something on the Internet means it might get read, perhaps you could be more explicit about any standards you have in mind. I've read a lot of indefensible comments here (I hope I haven't written any) but I want to stand up for some common sources of criticism which are no doubt "personal," but (I think) justifiable and even useful to your enterprise:

1) Conversational style: some of your guests interrupt constantly, filibuster, badger, and generally disrespect their interlocutor (and by extension, their audience). We should help them improve on this dimension or "help" them realize that this isn't their preferred medium.

2) Preparedness: a small fraction of your guests (and a smaller fraction of your regulars) can fill an hour extemporaneously. Anyone who isn't sure they're on that list should play it safe.

3) Intellectual laziness: it's a testament to the overall quality of bhtv that when a guest has nothing particularly new or interesting to say about a topic, it shows. There's a role for the editorial function here in minimizing this effect, including topic assignment and (of course) culling the herd.

3a) Smugness: the bastard stepchild of 3) and 4), this is an occupational hazard of the medium (to guests and audience alike). So are reactions to same. Roll with it.

4) Arrogance: I wish I had the time to call out more of your guests on this. I'm truly sorry and I'll try harder in the future. It will sting.

5) Personal affect: the success of the medium and its suitability for your guests depends partly on some of the nits that get picked in the comments. Let's hope we can all know where the line is and remind one another when it gets crossed.

6) Narcissism: personal anecdotes can serve a larger point, but only if the guests acknowledge the existence of some larger point than themselves. Use at your own peril!

The bottom line: the bhtv medium demands a significant time sacrifice of your audience. Any blogginghead reading this should back up and read the sentence again. The intensity of some of the feedback will reflect viewers' feelings about the manner in which your guests honor that sacrifice and the associated opportunity cost. Many of your guests--let's be frank--have books to sell and TV appearances to hope for. The bhtv audience need not serve as an uncritical enabler of these aspirations. Some of your younger guests simply don't have much interesting to say, and we do their careers no favor pretending otherwise.

Whether this has any bearing on your plea for civility is hard to know without more disclosure. You've created something of genuine value here which has the potential to be truly great if higher standards prevail both above and below "the fold."

N

Bloggin' Noggin
02-07-2008, 05:19 PM
Thanks for the reply, Brendan. I just wanted to reply to the following snippet:

I think I've told you on more than one occasion that I have abandoned hope that my ideological enemies can be dealt with exclusively in a civil manner, and am now of the opinion that it is sometimes necessary to fight fire with fire. I also think you're aware that I am impatient with a fetish for tolerance -- right or wrong, I feel no need to grant equal treatment to a sufficiently heinous point of view.

You say you were fighting fire with fire -- and I agreed to that if someone is nasty first, you can be nasty back. But I didn't see Arndt use any fire or fight anybody at all. Within the diavlog, all he did was describe his own life, and where he expressed disagreement with "the culture" and the rest of us, his tone was far from fiery.
Many people see two men kissing or holding hands in public as a kind of attack on them. I can't help seeing your reaction to Arndt's talking about his family life as rather similar, in that you perceive something largely personal as an affront to you -- an affront which merits a personal attack in return.

From Arndt's point of view, homosexuality may seem heinous and "repulsive" -- and as recently as the 1960s, that was pretty much the overwhelming majority view (if "view" is the right word -- "visceral reaction" is more like it). I would be very offended if Arndt or someone else listened to me describing my personal life and called it "repulsive." By what principle could I react (publicly) that way to him, while being offended when he reacted that way to me?

I don't see this as a "fetish" for tolerance -- i see it as trying to live by the rules I would have others live by.
More pragmatically, I see it as the only way to have a productive discussion. You might respond that Arndt would be wrong to call my life "repulsive" while still calling his repulsive by saying that I would be right and he would be wrong, but that just throws you back to the discussion of the impersonal issue that the personal attack evaded. Seems better to address it up-front rather than in the context of whether it was OK for me to call his life "repulsive."

Less pragmatically, I don't see people as just the sum of their views or their political positions. Many people with the "right" views turn out to be pretty rotten human beings, and many people with the "wrong" views -- even rather reprehensible views -- often turn out to be more open-minded, compassionate, decent people when put to the test than some people with the 'right" views. We don't even know all his views all that clearly, but even if we did, we wouldn't know his worth as a human being.
What if one of his sons turned out to be gay? Do we know what he'd do? We have a guess, based on his current views, but we really have no idea how his thought would evolve from there. If you think otherwise, you might have a look at this book (http://www.amazon.com/My-Son-Eric-Mary-Borhek/dp/0829807292/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202419875&sr=8-1) Not a great book, but an honest and rather touching one. The author was a fundamentalist who finds out her son is gay. She traces out the evolution of her thought as she tries to confront the conflict that gives rise to. Based only on her initial point of view, you might hate her as much as you seem to hate Arndt, but she proves in her evolution to be a serious, decent, compassionate and even open-minded person. There are other fundamentalists who don't pass that test so well, but then there are liberals who don't pass their own personal tests as well as she does either.
The quality of a person is revealed primarily in such intimate struggles, not so much in the parties and factions that many people belong to. For that reason, too, it's worth resisting the temptation to attack persons when their views are at issue. Love the fundamentalist; hate the fundamentalism, I say.

garbagecowboy
02-07-2008, 05:46 PM
There was a time when the comments section was at a high level, ideologically heterogeneous, full of smart, civil people engaging on the merits.

Some of this remains, but in my humble opinion as the bloggingheads.tv brand has grown and most of the growth has come from the leftosphere many of these qualities have faded.

It appears to be a distinctly left-wing echo chamber, with conservative ideas no longer being engaged with lengthy, smart rebuttals of their substance, but with scorn, derision and incredulity that anyone could be so stupid as to disagree with the progressive conventional wisdom.

I think a couple things have changed; first of all, now so much new content goes up that nobody has the time to watch it all, let alone get involved in conversations that stretch for days or weeks like they used to, delving deeply into the implications raised by a particular diavlog. Second of all, the publicity of bh.tv by partnering with the NY Times certainly raised the profile of the site, but probably led to the disproportionately progressive slant of the new commenters. Finally, it may be due to the bloggingheads selected, as there has been a lot of new, liberal bloggers who bring their own audience with them, whereas the conservative bloggingheads are mostly mainstays from the early era of bh.tv, who don't bring in a new audience and some of whom have become ideologically bogeymen upon whom the hatred is focused (Lake, Frum, Jonah Goldberg, for instance).

I wouldn't feel too bad about it, Bob, you were fighting internet entropy from the beginning and as the website matures, the tight-knit group of commenters who were civil if only because of familiarity was a necessary casualty of success. It's still a better comments section than most of the web (although that's not saying much) but I contend that the qualities Bob ascribes it have faded, somewhat, and will continue to as it grows. It's just the nature of the web.

The bitter, personal attacks against bloggingheads themselves are, I'd argue, a symptom of this general trend.

uncle ebeneezer
02-07-2008, 05:53 PM
You're out of line. I hereby ostracize you. Just kidding. Well said.

INTER-action from the offended party is the best remedy, in my opinion.

I have to say that I certainly appreciate the Will Wilkinson's, Henry Farrell's and (dare I say) Ann Althouses who jump into the fray with their own comments, or to defend/explain themselves more so than the guests that don't (like Mickey.)

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 05:56 PM
BN:

You say you were fighting fire with fire -- and I agreed to that if someone is nasty first, you can be nasty back. But I didn't see Arndt use any fire or fight anybody at all. Within the diavlog, all he did was describe his own life, and where he expressed disagreement with "the culture" and the rest of us, his tone was far from fiery.

True, but only in a narrow sense. The movement he is a part of is not always anywhere near so civil. If you're suggesting that every time one of them is nice, I have to forgive and forget all the other times they weren't, and that I have to wait, every time, for the fundie to bring the nasty first, sorry. No can do.

I see the policy goals of people like Arndt as a threat to the ideals of America and a giant pothole in the road toward societal progress worldwide. Look at the history of the last quarter-century. Playing perpetual defense against these characters has been a losing strategy. It's long past time for some of us to be offensive.

piscivorous
02-07-2008, 06:27 PM
No actually since havening severed my foot from my tibia and fibula I ave been laying idle and as I need to make some money I was busy installing a windows Server network for an insurance buddy of mine and I shall shortly live up to my promise but it will take some time as it is considerably more time consuming to deconstruct a verbal dialog than a written transcript. So I urge patience all good things come in time.

uncle ebeneezer
02-07-2008, 06:32 PM
I have to disagree with you about the the drop in civility, a-hole :-)

I've only been listening/reading/commenting for a bit over a year, and while there has definitely been a marked increase in the number of commentors, I've also seen an increase in the variety of views expressed. From the first day I read the comments there were always some nasty words between commentors or aimed at the guests, but pretty minimial compared to most places that I have ever visited on the web of political nature.

I don't see a great left-ward shift either. The main elucidators of Liberal/Progressive ideology in the comments section, are the same names that I remember reading on day one. I would welcome more conservative commentors (or guests) who have interesting things to say (maybe we need a link to the WSJ editorial page too).

I love the fact that the amount of content has multiplied drastically since I think that although it does take away from the long-running arguments and feeling of community, it is probably better for attracting a larger audience and maybe even making B&M some $ eventually. The one nice thing is that now I don't mind skipping a vlog or two if they are subjects (or guests) that don't interest me, because I know there will be a new one (or more) tomorrow.

Also, I think they have expanded the topical exposure since I've been here. Sci Sat, UN, Free Will, VH-1 guys talking about media, Constitutional issues, and the two Ann's riffing on pop-culture are all features that have come along in my time.

PS some of my points aren't directly to you, but to the discussion in general with BN, Twin, BJ, etc. You can ostracize me if that's out of line.

piscivorous
02-07-2008, 06:37 PM
there is also the possibility that those expressing dissatisfaction with the war are doing so because for the longest time the press has only reported the bad news and many are left with the impression that we were losing. There are many that don't like to loose.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 06:42 PM
Another great username!

Namazu
02-07-2008, 06:57 PM
If it was Camille, say it is so. I'm still recovering from the last time I tried to read something she wrote.
Brendan: I'm not sure what your medical issues have to do with bhtv's booking policies. Don't you have your own blog? Don't you ever worry about getting voted off the island (first)?

Incompetence Dodger
02-07-2008, 06:59 PM
ID:

Ann Coulter is the obvious first guess, but I just can't see her being afraid of a little flaming. Therefore, I guess: Condoleezza Rice or the woman whom Mickey thinks is carrying John Edwards's baby.

I dismissed the possibility of Ann Coulter (Camille Paglia too, for that matter) for the same reason. Plus, it's beyond belief that Bob would be running point on recruiting her.

Rice, no way for at least five different reasons that immediately come to mind. More broadly, I doubt that anyone in the current Administration, currently involved in a campaign, or seriously in the running for a job in the next Administration is going to participate (c.f. Jim Pinkerton).

Given those constraints, Madeleine Albright is the best guess I've seen so far. Plus she has a book to sell. Does she blog, though? Remember Bob said "She's not principally a blogger."

Incompetence Dodger
02-07-2008, 07:16 PM
I think Bob should recruit some of the posters to do diavlogs. Candidates I'd be most interested in hearing from would be bjkeefe, Eastwest, Wolfgangus, Wonderment, Abu Noor al Irlandee, piscivorous, McNulty, you, and many others.

Since all a blogginghead needs is a camera and an Internet connection, it could be easily done, and I think it would be a big hit with everyone.


This is a great idea. I've said before that diavlogging is harder than it looks (like being on TV, it takes a great deal of artifice and skill to come off as natural and unaffected), but I think everyone would give the "amateurs" a lot of slack WRT presentation.

Relatedly, I wish it were possible for anonymous bloggers like Cunning Realist and hilzoy to appear on bhTV. Avatars maybe?

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 07:40 PM
ID:

Hard to believe that you took my guesses seriously.

Tao Jones
02-07-2008, 07:41 PM
Thank you.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 07:43 PM
Brendan: I'm not sure what your medical issues have to do with bhtv's booking policies. Don't you have your own blog? Don't you ever worry about getting voted off the island (first)?

I should refrain from expressing my opinion because there are other outlets available to me? And if so, why doesn't this reasoning also apply to you?

If you want to start a movement, feel free.

Anyuser
02-07-2008, 08:03 PM
Garbagecowboy, I agree with you. Too many posters treat this like their AOL chat room. As I type this, one guy has 28 posts on this forum, which is very typical of him.

Simon Willard
02-07-2008, 08:10 PM
Perhaps you are not posting enough to balance the scales, GC.

But you do have a point about the new, increased frequency of diavlogs. I don't have time to listen to them all. If I don't have time for the entire diavlog, I feel constrained about posting. Also, the diavlogs feel more ephemeral - who will read these comments three days from now? It's harder to get into a thoughtful give-and-take with other commenters when you know the next diavlog comes out in 5 hours.

Simon Willard
02-07-2008, 08:21 PM
It's about not wanting to get pulled into the mud. Sure, I can post nasty things about a public figure's opinions on an Amazon review of his or her book. But BHtv makes the connection between diavloger and commenter a bit more personal than between author and reader. First of all, the diavlogger has his or her face in play. Secondly, the commenter has a more potent weapon: the dingalink. We can take someone out of context with a dingalink, and that can have more sting than a print quote.

So I must take issue with Noggin's earlier suggestion that it's about the diavlogger's self-esteem. It's about public exposure and protection of one's public image. A politician doesn't want to walk into a room full of cameras and hostile questioners.

Lemon Sorbet
02-07-2008, 08:28 PM
Bloggin,

When I read your defense of Rick Arndt, my crush on Bob transferred itself over to you. The fact that you would defend so fairly a man who does not accept that which is an integral core of your being - I just found that really attractive and manly. Sigh...are you sure there's no hope for us? :-)

Eastwest
02-07-2008, 09:58 PM
Actually, given the low-brow nature of the "Comments," I'd like to suggest two options, the first of which obviously won't fly, the second of which might well be worth considering:

a) Eliminate the ability to make "comments" at all. (I'm observing that the vast majority of comments lately are not really of a serious nature, indicate a maturity level usually associated with mid-to-late adolescence, often have almost nothing to do with the content of the diavlogs, and implicitly enshrine as orthodoxy the tenet that: because one can be abusive and obnoxious, one somehow should be abusive and obnoxious;

b) The more plausible approach to civilizing the place is the digital equivalent of setting up a "Children's Table" at a large clan's Thanksgiving dinner, wherein the entire "commenting thread" is restricted to a separate "Forum" page not visually associated with any given diavlog.

Surprised at the childish nature of this site's commentators.

EW

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 09:59 PM
27. But who's counting?

Okay, this one makes 28.

Want a Kleenex?

Bob M
02-07-2008, 10:19 PM
http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8605?in=00:57:50

Maybe he should do it in earth tones

graz
02-07-2008, 10:54 PM
27. But who's counting?

Okay, this one makes 28.

Want a Kleenex?

Tissue...I don't even know you.

I feel 29 comin' on

Eastwest
02-07-2008, 11:54 PM
Clarification on my "Modest Proposal":

Actually, I was talking about eliminating forums altogether as the first approach.

The second suggestion was to move ALL comments off to a completely separate forum page one mouse-click away from the diavlog proper which would then feature only present and past diavlogs.

The rationale for the second idea was that there seems to be the psychology of "acting out" going on where, because one's comments are more-or-less on "center stage," right there in front of the featured guests, goofy adolescent verbal antics, rants, and catcalls are somehow more attractive. A type of tiresome ego-mania tending to spoil the contemplation of the thoughts streaming out of the two "talking heads."

EW

Anyway, this whole thing is really seeming like a waste of time. Simplest solution: forget the commenters even exist, and, above all, take a pass on any sort of participation, hoping that potential guests aren't so horrified by the nature of the comments that the BHTV loses the ability to attract a large cast of contributing "guests" holding forth on a wide range of topics.

Drew
02-08-2008, 12:55 AM
I'm disappointed the cake featured Bob and Mickey yet did not "deploy the moose".

Magic Flea
02-08-2008, 03:18 AM
A few things: A lot of the content on BHTV stinks, particularly since the turn of 2008. There's all of this election coverage the with the same old (well, young) faces who know nothing about politics except what they read some columnist write yesterday, or last week. You're going to breed contempt for your diavloggers if you're putting them out there with nothing to offer but old conventional wisdom and then claim to be some sort of "intellectual" site.

Also, in disagreement with other commenters, I welcome most of the right-wingers they object to. A lot of these people have real influence or have been important figures in the White House (e.g. Frum) and ought to be challenged vigorously. This is a good format for that sort of thing and these are far more important discussions to have than any conversation with full-of-himself bloviating Ezra Klein or no-ability-to-evaluate-arguments and no-serious-opinions-to-speak-of "The" Garance.

Finally, I agree there is a lot of superficial crap in this comments section. It would be wonderful to think it would go away, but (sorry to be a cynic) I don't think it will.

Eastwest
02-08-2008, 03:18 AM
Per Baltimoron:

But, don't ask for self-censorship from members of this forum just to attract someone who probably shouldn't be on this medium to begin with!

Actually, "self-censorship" is not the issue. It's really just a matter of suggesting that, if one wasn't taught basic manners by one's parents or rather felt it was a measure of one's manhood to refuse to learn even though taught, now, having moved out of one's parents' living room into the wider world, perhaps one might consider adopting manners where they are generally considered to be the norm, that's if it doesn't feel too self-castrating to avoid ad hominem rudeness in expressing disagreement with views expressed by guests.

That's all.

EW

Sgt Schultz
02-08-2008, 03:32 AM
Go ahead and be OFFENDED.
Latinos will not be daunted by your case of the vapors.

Allan
02-08-2008, 03:48 AM
The Bob Wright-Mickey Kaus and the John Horgan-George Johnson diavlogs
are the only ones I never skip.

Allan
02-08-2008, 04:20 AM
BJKeefe: "In fact, we do not think there is anything great about people who watch Fox News."

Here is a Canadian Bloggingheads viewer from day one, who watches FOX every evening, even Bill O'Reilly, and never misses Hannity and Colmes whenever Ann Coulter is on.

bjkeefe
02-08-2008, 05:48 AM
BJKeefe: "In fact, we do not think there is anything great about people who watch Fox News."

Here is a Canadian Bloggingheads viewer from day one, who watches FOX every evening, even Bill O'Reilly, and never misses Hannity and Colmes whenever Ann Coulter is on.

I'm glad for the diversity for the sake of the BH.tv forums, but I do hope you augment your viewing with some other news sources.

uncle ebeneezer
02-08-2008, 11:36 AM
Hey welcome back Lemon,

I agree that Bloggin's defense of Arndt is commendable.

Honestly, I don't know if it's my rampant enthusiasm for free speech, or if I'm wearing some really thick rose-colored lenses, but I just don't really see the problem as that big of a deal. I think the regular commenters have done a pretty good job of self-policing. When someone acts like an a-hole, usually one or more commenters will let them know it. So 1 good guest decided not to come on because she was worried about negative feedback. Ok, that's a shame, but how many guests HAVE decided to come on, again and again. Most of the people I find interesting don't have this aversion to possible ridicule by the commenters on BHTV, so if it means that we only have thicker-skinned guests, that would be fine with me too. Most bloggers have pretty thick skin (as they must), and it is "Blogging"heads, so while I applaud the effort to bring a greater variety of guests, I don't think censorship for the sake of getting high-profile guests is the way to go. I think the BH community has a nice mix of seriousness and jest. I like the fact that the guests feel free to go off topic, tell personal annecdotes, be sarcastic, rib each other, and just plain be silly. That's what makes it cool. And I'm glad that that spirit carries over to us commenters as well. There's still plenty of substantive posts out there, and sometimes things get so heavy that it's nice to lighten things up a bit. So, in short (or long) I say: keep everything the way it is.

I would love to have the guests respond to comments a little more, but there's no way to force them.

graz
02-08-2008, 12:49 PM
[QUOTE=uncle ebeneezer;70005]"Hey welcome back Lemon,

I agree that Bloggin's defense of Arndt is commendable.

Honestly, I don't know if it's my rampant enthusiasm for free speech... I say: keep everything the way it is".


I would like to echo the mention of Bloggin's exemplary model of civility and
compassion.

uncle: apologies for editing your words, but may I highlight the crux of the matter. Your rampant enthusiasm for free speech is all and everything. Because within that context all is possible. Including calls for decorum or a relative free for all.

As for keeping everything as it is: This all fits in with Bob's evolutionary plan, and the fittest aspects will survive.

piscivorous
02-08-2008, 04:21 PM
Let us examine the Mr. Wright’s argument that Afghanistan is falling (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8605?in=00:30:25&out=00:30:31) because we shifted our attention and resources to Iraq in the global WOT. On it’s face this argument seems to carry great weight, but if you believe, as I do, that a free and peaceful Afghanistan will do little to stem the root cause of Islamic fundamentalism, then success or failure there is quite irrelevant. While it would serve the purpose of extracting our requisite pound of flesh, for terrorists events of 9/11, and it is important to follow through on the commitments we have made to Afghanistan people, to help them, it is far from the central battleground of the global WOT. This battleground is located in the Middles East not South Asia.

President Bush has stated quite plainly and does so still the he believes the best way to protect America is to insure that freedom and representative governance becomes the norm of the Middle East and not the rather rare exception. While you may call me a pie eyed dreamer to believe that such a utopianist peaceful world is achievable, one can not deny the politics and governance of the indiscriminately drawn nations of the Middle East have left their populace with feelings of victim hood, dependency, hopelessness and despair. These feelings are not unique to this area but they as ubiquitous to the Middle East is sand. So to win the global WOT we must eradicate the underling conditions which foster these negative beliefs, in short to change the way these peoples are governed ; a decision President Bush has made as he has enunciated clearly and frequently.

Mr. Wright makes the broad general claim that this goal can be accomplished in dozens of easier ways (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8605?in=00:34:06&out=00:34:22), yet he provides no meat to the bones of this argument. When I look at the history of trying to move these Kings, Sultans and dictatorial megalomaniacs to more benign and representative governance I can see little if any evidence to substantiate this claim. I also find it hard to believe that in the decades of trying we have not already exhausted the panoply of dialog, bribery and coercion that exist in the broad realm of diplomacy, in pursuit of bringing and maintaining stability to the Middle East, or at least the satiating appearance of such stability. September 9th, 2001 should have laid waste to that fictional belief, that stability in the Middle East will assure us peace, but seems not to have in the minds of many.

While I know that many, who read this, will disavow this argument but for the sake of debate let us assume that this is one of President Bush’s major core beliefs about what it is going to take to win the global WOT. One then must logically ask will a tactical victory of liberating and modernizing Afghanistan achieve the larger strategic goal of eliminating the root causes of support for Islamic terrorism. If I could answer that question in the affirmative than I would agree with Mr. Wright and those others that claim Iraq is an unnecessary sideshow. However the roots of today’s Islamic terrorism are not planted in Afghanistan or in Osama bin Laden, they are but two intertwined branches, the roots lie in the Middle East. In 2001 there were three countries, in the Middle East, from which the various flavors of Islamic extremism drew the majority of their succor and nourishment. They were Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The branch of Islamic terrorism that was immediately responsible for the attacks on our soil originate from the Wahhabi branch of Islam as practiced and preached in Saudi Arabia. This is the branch of Islam from which Mr. bin Laden comes and from which al-Qaeda drew and still draws the majority of it’s support, both in terms of manpower and finance.

The Persian flavor of Islamic terrorism flows from Iran. If the State Department is to be believed in the 1999 Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism (http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/terror_99/sponsor.html) Iran
Although there were signs of political change in Iran in 1999, the actions of certain state institutions in support of terrorist groups made Iran the most active state sponsor of terrorism. These state institutions, notably the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, continued to be involved in the planning and execution of terrorist acts and continued to support a variety of groups that use terrorism to pursue their goals.

A variety of public reports indicate Iran's security forces conducted several bombings against Iranian dissidents abroad. Iranian agents, for example, were blamed for a truck bombing in early October of a Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) terrorist base near Basrah, Iraq, that killed several MEK members and non-MEK individuals.

Iran continued encouraging Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionist groups--including HAMAS, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Ahmad Jibril's PFLP-GC--to use violence, especially terrorist attacks, in Israel to undermine the peace process. Iran supported these groups with varying amounts of money, training, and weapons. Despite statements by the Khatami administration that Iran was not working against the peace process, Tehran stepped up its encouragement of, and support for, these groups after the election of Israeli Prime Minister Barak and the resumption of Israel-Syria peace talks. In a gesture of public support, President Khatami met with Damascus-based Palestinian rejectionist leaders during his visit to Syria in May. In addition, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei reflected Iran's covert actions aimed at scuttling the peace process when he sponsored a major rally in Tehran on 9 November to demonstrate Iran's opposition to Israel and peace. Hizballah and Palestinian rejectionist speakers at the rally reaffirmed their support for violent jihad against Israel. A Palestinian Islamic Jihad representative praised a bombing in Netanya that occurred days before and promised more such attacks.

Tehran still provided safehaven to elements of Turkey's separatist PKK that conducted numerous terrorist attacks in Turkey and against Turkish targets in Europe. One of the PKK's most senior at-large leaders, Osman Ocalan, brother of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, resided at least part-time in Iran. Iran also provided support to terrorist groups in North Africa and South and Central Asia, including financial assistance and training.

The evidence that Iraq supported terrorism and terrorists is undeniable. From the payments of $25,000 to the relatives of suicide bombers to harboring such terrorists as Abu Nedal the signs are inescapable. Once again from the e State Department's Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism (http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/terror_99/sponsor.html)Iraq
Iraq continued to plan and sponsor international terrorism in 1999. Although Baghdad focused primarily on the antiregime opposition both at home and abroad, it continued to provide safehaven and support to various terrorist groups.

Press reports stated that, according to a defecting Iraqi intelligence agent, the Iraqi intelligence service had planned to bomb the offices of Radio Free Europe in Prague. Radio Free Europe offices include Radio Liberty, which began broadcasting news and information to Iraq in October 1998. The plot was foiled when it became public in early 1999.

The Iraqi opposition publicly stated its fears that the Baghdad regime was planning to assassinate those opposed to Saddam Hussein. A spokesman for the Iraqi National Accord in November said that the movement's security organs had obtained information about a plan to assassinate its secretary general, Dr. Iyad 'Allawi, and a member of the movement's political bureau, as well as another Iraqi opposition leader.

Iraq continued to provide safehaven to a variety of Palestinian rejectionist groups, including the Abu Nidal organization, the Arab Liberation Front (ALF), and the former head of the now-defunct 15 May Organization, Abu Ibrahim, who masterminded several bombings of U.S. aircraft.

Iraq provided bases, weapons, and protection to the MEK, an Iranian terrorist group that opposes the current Iranian regime. In 1999, MEK cadre based in Iraq assassinated or attempted to assassinate several high-ranking Iranian Government officials, including Brigadier General Ali Sayyad Shirazi, Deputy Chief of Iran's Joint Staff, who was killed in Tehran on 10 April. I have used the 1999 assessment to avoid the claim that they lied to support the "false claims" of President Bush to support his war mongering ways. But could have included similar assessments from later dates.

One can believe that if we slice off enough of the branches, of Islamic terrorism, that we can eventually destroy the root systems that support it. This is not my belief nor do I think that it is it a belief that an honest assessment of the facts on the ground can support. Given the growing frequency of and sophistication terrorist events coupled with the ever-accelerating advancement and spread of technology and knowledge in the aftermath of 9/11 2001 it would be natural assumption that it is only a matter of time before another horrendous mass murder attack occurs.

piscivorous
02-08-2008, 10:31 PM
Given that Afghanistan is more Persian, but not quite, than Arabian the effects of 100% success in Afghanistan is likely to have little if any influence on events or attitudes on the governments of Iraq or Saudi Arabia nor the intractable Iranians; as they tend to see themselves as the rightful and historical hegemons of the region. With the decades long failures of diplomacy to move the region in a direction, so as to benefit it populace, the natural assumption, in the aftermath of 9/11, that absent some basic change to the governing structures in the region we are likely to remain under attack with the possibility of those attacks moving, in the near future, to the use of some sort of WMD. In addition the stead fast refusal of the regions rulers to deal with the proliferation of terrorists and support for terrorism the decision to abandon the previous program of pursuing “stability” in the Middle East, at the cost of all else seems a exercise if futility to me. Given President Bushes numerous statements saying just exactly that tends to support my argument that a deliberate decision to destabilize the region was made, in order to foster the long term changes that need to be made to destroy the roots supporting Islamic terrorism. It them becomes a matter of how do you introduce a level of instability that will allow for the possibility of change, manage that instability so that the whatever change comes it is in the direction of freedom and responsible representative governance, and insure that the region, the largest energy supplying region to the developed world, does not go completely to hell in a hand basket.

One could choose to put an end to one or all three of the governments, which airpower alone could accomplish over time, as was proved by President Clinton’s use of it in Bosnia. While airpower alone could have forced the capitulation of one or all three of the governments the length of time it would take to accomplish such change, even with the accuracy of today’s modern munitions, the causality rates and hardships it would cause to the civilian populations over this extended period would be horrendous. This says nothing of the effects of the reduced energy supplies to the world market, over this period, would have on the economies of the world. Once the capitulation of the targeted government(s) was accomplish just like in Bosnia ground forces would have to be introduced and an occupation occur if we were to have any influence on the direction of change short of resuming the aerial bombardment when we were convinced that events were moving in an unacceptable direction. Whether or not that occupation would be as seemingly peaceful as that of Bosnia and Croatia might be an interesting exercise in speculation but no more than that. So a Bosnia type campaign, as the perturbing force, is out as it would take too long, to accomplish the objectives, it’s human cost to those subjected to it would be extremely high and we would have little means of influencing the direction of change.

This essentially means we must invade one or all of the countries to change their governments as this will greatly shorten the time of combat, and it flows logically from that, that the shorter the period of combat the lower the costs to the civilian populace. We must then stay long enough to insure the governmental and cultural changes necessary to eradicate the causes of radicalization are sufficiently established to survive the challenges that will come their way once we decamp the countries. To in invade and occupy all three of the countries at one time would require total mobilization of the U.S. with probably a quadrupling of the ground forces. This simply was not going to happen so it then becomes a matter a process of elimination as to which one of the countries should we invade, and the obvious choice is Iraq. It is in flagrant disregard of numerous U.N. resolutions, a pariah in the eyes of most of the civilized world, in passion of the very weapons we now fear so dramatically, if ones is to believe the intelligence agencies and leaders of countries world wide, and it is by far the most reprehensible of three governments; in other words not only the most likely choice but also the one choice that has a chance of garnering support. President Bush sought that support and in many corners found it and in others it was deigned. I will not get sidetracked into a discussion on whether that denial of support was on moral grounds as opposed to business and financial reasons both legal and illegal to me it is irrelevant. I do not think that any President seeing the need to take action, to protect the safety and well being of the U.S., will in the end submit their constitutional duty to the whims and fancies of the U.N. or any other body. The decision was made to invade Iraq, depose Saddam and launch the social, cultural and governmental changes needed to free them from extreme repression, to move the Iraqi state to a more benign nature and allow the Iraqis to govern themselves in a more representative manner.

Has everything gone smoothly in Iraq most assuredly not. To paraphrase a quote I can only recite from memory and can’t attribute except to some long dead rather successful general “war is a series of mistakes culminating in victory” or something along those lines. So to expect the global WOT or practically the front in Iraq, or for that matter the Afghanistan front, to be anything different is to expect the miraculous. But to callously disregard the effects that establishing a free and representative Iraq will have on others in the region is bordering on blind ideology or ignorance. Any independent look at the changes that have occurred, outside of Iraq, since our occupation of same would tend to belie this false assumption. Libbya surrenders it nuclear and WMD programs when, not after the successful displacement of the Taliban but after the successful displacement of Saddam nearly two years latter. The democratic movement of Lebanon succeeds in forcing Syria to remove its visible presence from Lebanese soil not after the successful displacement of the Taliban but 2 years after the successful displacement of Saddam. Women in Kuwait are giving the right to vote and run for office again not after the Afghanistan but Iraq. There are many other example of positive changes that are now happening in the various Middle Eastern countries. All of which I guess can be dismissed out of hand by claiming that our invasion and occupation of Iraq had nothing to do with these positive developments, and they would have naturally occurred but the coincidence of so many at this time suggests some level of correlation. I guess that the new aggressive stance that Saudi Arabia has been to take against their home grown terrorist, the reworking of their school curriculum and books in the Madrasahs and the supposed crackdown on the preach of hatred in the Medrasas and Mosques was surely going to happen even though it didn’t occur until after our invasion of Iraq and al-Qaeda shifting it’s focus to the Middle East. Sorry count me as a skeptic of the Mr. Wrights theory that there is no linkage.

It is also somewhat pessimistic and premature to assume that the political progress in a positive direction is unobtainable as the link I provide in the original Blue vs Red (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=69880#post69880) comment above. That is not the only link I could post but it is probably the best discussion of the pearls and pitfalls we now face in the internal workings of Iraqi politics. Brendon has accused me of posting links to, as I believe he said’ “from small and obscure publications and journals.” But if the MSM is failing to report the news from Iraq, because “if it doesn’t bleed it doesn’t lead” or through analysis, because it doesn’t fit a particular meme, that the media prefers than one is actually better served through the smaller out of the way medium.

As one of the conservative commenters on this sight I have experienced a good share of personal insult and attack so I find it troubling when the founder and frequent diavloger sanctions this behavior with his constant use of this very tactic in just about every diavlog that touches on the global WOT especially when Iraq is the topic. In this 9 minute and 23 second dialog he does so most agelessly twice here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8605?in=00:36:20&out=00:36:28
) and here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8605?in=00:37:03&out=00:37:06
) and it would be nice not to be insulted while listening.

P.S. The second part of the series is now up Inside Iraqi politics – Part 2. A look at executive branch progress (http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/02/inside_iraqi_politic_1.php)

otto
02-09-2008, 03:33 AM
Ottorino: No relation!

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8605?in=00:59:25&out=00:59:59

graz
02-09-2008, 01:53 PM
Bob's plan worked. His paramount intention was to shame kidneystones into leaving. I'll bet that there never even was an "uninvited guest." It was all part of his masterful plan to rid the site of the scourge. Who will be next and how will it be achieved? Stay tuned.

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 02:11 PM
Delete My F*%&ing Account, Bob

After some tiny moments of reflection I've decided to offer myself as sacrificial victim to the 'uninvited guest'.

What makes you think you said something that offended Bob or the mystery guest?

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 02:13 PM
But I have BH.tv elitism: I think we're better than those other sites.

Oh, well, of course! Is there any doubt!? Not in my mind! ;)

petty boozswha
02-09-2008, 03:44 PM
Au contraire. I like Bob Wright a lot, but his opinion on the war was stupid and beneath contempt. Around the 28:50 mark [can't get the hang of this dinglelink thing] he asks, so what was so bad about Saddam after all? D'oh, again I slap my forehead. Nix your revisionism Bob - poor misunderstood avuncular grandpa Saddam was not victimized by the diabolical neo-cons, and if your party runs on that theme in the election McCain might win. On October 10, 2002 the US Senate passed the AUMF 77 to 23 - I think even Hillary Clinton voted for it - and it listed the reasons we had to go to war with Saddam's regime. I suggest you reread it, for example, WMDs were not one of them. From his training of terrorists at Salman Pak [read the Duefer Report] to his financing of suicide bombers who intentionally focused on American tourist teens in Israel to his assistance and sheltering of the 1993 WTC bombers, he was a nogoodnik that could no longer be tolerated as a role model on the world stage.
If you want to argue that the war was so bungled that the cost will never equal the benefits, you may be on stronger ground, but even there I don't know if Mickey isn't right in the long run. If you had asked was the Korean War worth 54,000 American lives in 1958 our opinion might have been very similar to the way we feel today - that's why Truman left office with a 21% approval rating.

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 04:07 PM
Around the 28:50 mark [can't get the hang of this dinglelink thing] he asks, so what was so bad about Saddam after all?
Are you referring to what Bob says, here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8605?in=00:32:49)?

If that's what you're referring to, you are completely misrepresenting what Bob said.

petty boozswha
02-09-2008, 04:20 PM
Yes thank you, that is the quote I was referring to, and I respectfully dispute your contention that I'm misrepresenting what Bob said. He asked what was intolerable about what Saddam was doing at the time, and I answered his question. I am no apologist for GWB, I agree 200% he has mishandled this situation, but I still believe of all the bad options available in 2002/2003 this war was the least bad. It's impossible to prove alternative history as to what would have occurred had we not taken him out, but I think every plausible scenario would have left us in a worse position than we are now: on the other hand, if, say, McCain had been president this war would have been fought a lot more competently and explained to the public a lot more honestly, and I think we would be in much less of a spot than we are now.

Wonderment
02-09-2008, 04:34 PM
...on the other hand, if, say, McCain had been president this war would have been fought a lot more competently and explained to the public a lot more honestly, and I think we would be in much less of a spot than we are now.

Give me a break. There was no way of selling this war without the WMD lies. McCain would either have lied like Bush did, or he wouldn't have had any support for his war.

petty boozswha
02-09-2008, 04:44 PM
Again our recollections differ - in my recollection support for the war in the US was strong and was not dependent on the WMD argument. WMDs were emphasised to appease Tony Blair as the most salable case to the UN and the international community; Cheney, for example, was appoplectic when we gave Saddam a chance to wiggle off the hook if he complied with UNSCOM. Much like getting Al Capone on tax evasion, it was a sincere charge but transparently not our primary motivation, and should not have been presented in the manner it was.

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 05:10 PM
Yes thank you, that is the quote I was referring to, and I respectfully dispute your contention that I'm misrepresenting what Bob said. He asked what was intolerable about what Saddam was doing at the time, and I answered his question.
No, you totally misrepresented what Bob said. You have him wondering whether there really was anything wrong with Saddam at all. Specifically, you claim that Bob asks "what was so bad about Saddam after all?"

This implies Bob thought there was nothing wrong with Saddam. Then you claim that Bob feels that "poor misunderstood avuncular grandpa Saddam was [] victimized by the diabolical neo-cons."

This is all manufactured by you out of whole cloth. To start with, he never mentioned Saddam, never claimed he was misunderstood, never said he had done nothing wrong, and never said he was a victim. In this segment, he didn't even refer to Saddam at all. (He was talking about Iraq.)

But more important, you omit the context in which Bob made his point: A comparison of the danger we face from Iraq and the Middle East before and after the disasterous invasion. Bob's point was CLEARLY that however bad things were before, they are far worse today.



I am no apologist for GWB, I agree 200% he has mishandled this situation, but I still believe of all the bad options available in 2002/2003 this war was the least bad.
This would explain why you are misrepresenting and distorting what Bob said, because Bob directly addresses this point; In the clip you highlighted, Bob was specifically pointing out that we are worse off now than we would have been without the invasion.



It's impossible to prove alternative history as to what would have occurred had we not taken him out, but I think every plausible scenario would have left us in a worse position than we are now
OK, so now you're including the context that is critical to understanding what Bob said: Was the bad situation before the war better or worse than the bad situation after the war. The only problem is that you omit this context from your representation of Bob's argument, instead falsely claiming that Bob claimed there was nothing wrong with Saddam at all.



if, say, McCain had been president this war would have been fought a lot more competently and explained to the public a lot more honestly, and I think we would be in much less of a spot than we are now.
I'm not sure we'd be in that much of a better situation if McCain had been president. There are things that even Superman could not have fixed -- like overwhelming resentment and resistance against America conquering Iraq, stealing their resources, and imposing our will on them. It cannot be doubted that McCain or almost anyone else would have managed the war better than Bush. The results might not have been terribly different, but the management would clearly have been better.

Bush is in a class by himself when it comes to being an incompetent failure. And you know what's funny? Most incompetent failures are ashamed of themselves. But not Bush. He's as cocky as he is incompetent.

It must suck to be a Bush voter. In the years ahead, Bush voters will deny they voted for Bush the same way people once denied voting for Nixon.

Wonderment
02-09-2008, 05:42 PM
It must suck to be a Bush voter. In the years ahead, Bush voters will deny they voted for Bush the same way people once denied voting for Nixon.

Yes, this is a remarkable and depressing aspect of politics and human nature. When I lived in Spain it was nigh on impossible to find someone who had supported Franco. Everyone who had an even remotely plausible narrative about being secretly pro-democracy suddenly had "always opposed the dictatorship."

Unfortunately, most people (especially pre-Internet) don't have to go on the record, and even when they do, they have some wiggle room. That's why I liked Edwards. At least, he had the decency to say he was wrong and he was sorry about voting to authorize the war.

Hillary's explanation is, IMHO, disgraceful and insulting. Still, as I've said before on this forum, if she is the candidate I will devote every moment and every spare penny I have to ensuring her election. Nothing could be worse for this country than another 4 years of deranged Republican hawkery.

petty boozswha
02-09-2008, 07:06 PM
TwinSwords,

"To start with, he never mentioned Saddam, never claimed he was misunderstood, never said he had done nothing wrong, and never said he was a victim. In this segment, he didn't even refer to Saddam at all. (He was talking about Iraq.)"

Reading your comments I can only deduce you believe there is a substantive difference between talking about Saddam Hussein in 2002 and talking about Iraq as a geopolitical entity in 2002 - to me that is a distinction without consequence. I did not say Bob Wright claimed Saddam did nothing wrong, I said he apparently believes his crimes did not deserve the retribution they provoked. The dinglelink quote above cannot be interpreted any other way, IMHO. I think the revisionist history concerning the origins of this war induced by Bush Derangement Syndrome among the Bob Wrights of the world is not healthy. This does not mean I'm deliberately misquoting him or that I do not think he is a sincere man of goodwill. He just has a defective take on the facts.

bjkeefe
02-09-2008, 07:32 PM
petty:

Sorry if I appear to be piling on, but FWIW:

o I, too, heard Bob discussing Saddam in the section of this diavlog that you refer to only as a threat to the national security of the US.

o You may think that Bush invaded Iraq for reasons other than WMD, but that is how the war was sold. I refer you to the "smoking gun/mushroom cloud" meme and Colin Powell's presentation of "mobile biological weapons labs" at the UN, to name but two examples. I'd give you long odds that a random sample of 100 Americans asked, right now, "Why did Bush invade Iraq?" would yield "WMDs" as an answer from at least 95 of them.

o Your right-wing sound bites appear in good order. Of course it is us evil lefties who are engaging in "revisionist history." Of course we have "BDS." Of course we are unable to understand "facts."

What, you just got your batteries recharged at CPAC 2008?

petty boozswha
02-09-2008, 08:26 PM
bj

Let me address your comments in reverse order:

3} You have a point about my inflamatory rhetoric getting in the way of my arguments. I will try to tone down my right-wing sound bites if it will help focus on what I'm trying to say.

2} The rationale for the war was explained ad nauseum to anyone sophisticated enough to read this forum. I don't think your appeal to the man in the street's confusion detracts from my argument, since I readily admit that Bush was both ham fisted and tin eared. For the record, the one sentence explanation for the war was as follows: In a post 911 era the US could not tolerate a rogue regime with a history of cooperation with terrorist groups to possess a WMD program or capability.

1} I'm not sure I get your point about referring to Saddam only as a threat to the national security of the US -- I went back and transcribed the disputed Bob Wright quote:

...you are so nuts... compared to what that was so terribly threatening to American interests about what was going on in Iraq at the time...

What was threatening to American interests is that Saddam had the resources, the animus and the megalomania to unleash another 911 on the US by terrorist cut-outs and we could not live indefinitely under that threat. The boil had to be lanced, and Bush did it.

piscivorous
02-09-2008, 09:50 PM
Pretty soon these left will figure it out. You and I both know that this is the last and most successful Rovean conspiracy. Maliki and Bush conspired to make Iraq look so hopeless so as to lure the Democrats into believing they could call the front in Iraq a complete and utter failure and demand withdrawal and surrender. With that part of the plan working the conspirators are now manipulating the press and the events in Iraq to show progress just to make the left appearer like crazy pessimistic surrender monkeys so the Republicans can win the presidency. So far so good.

bjkeefe
02-09-2008, 10:20 PM
petty:

Thanks for the considered response, especially on point 3.

Sorry, but I just don't agree with the other two points.

I don't think it's worth arguing further about what any of us heard Bob say about Saddam -- I appreciate your transcribing the snippet, but it still scans the same to me as it did when I listened (and re-listened) to it.

You've got a more plausible case about Bush's motivation for invading Iraq. I grant the possibility that the Administration's actual thinking was more complex than their sales pitch. I don't know how worth it is to rehash even that, though, since it's certain that you think they made the right call, and I don't. I believed then, and I still believe, that Saddam was contained. Maybe not perfectly, but well enough that there was no need to rush into an invasion. I won't dispute that he had dreams of getting terrorists to harass the US on his behalf, nor will I dispute that he had dreams of having WMDs. I just don't think he had the wherewithal, and it was both unnecessary and too risky to blow apart the status quo, especially in a half-assed manner. If GWB truly believed in the case that you present, then he should have taken the time to do it right, both in building international support and in assembling proper and sufficient forces. The comparison between his method and his father's could not be more stark.

You say it's merely a matter of incompetence; I say it went beyond that. I believe that he wanted to kick some ass ASAP for political gain, and this motivation was possibly augmented by an immature sense of revenge and/or a naive belief in the neocon vision of US global hegemony. GWB's whole life has been acting as though anything he wanted to try would be easy, and if it fell apart, he could count on someone bailing him out. He never wants to invest the effort into really doing something; instead, he just wants to be seen to be doing something.

As I say, I doubt you agree with any of that, and I doubt there's any way for me to make you budge. But I do thank you for offering something beyond what I usually hear from most people who are still defending Bush.

piscivorous
02-10-2008, 12:16 AM
petty:
You've got a more plausible case about Bush's motivation for invading Iraq. I grant the possibility that the Administration's actual thinking was more complex than their sales pitch. I don't know how worth it is to rehash even that, though, since it's certain that you think they made the right call, and I don't. I believed then, and I still believe, that Saddam was contained. Maybe not perfectly, but well enough that there was no need to rush into an invasion. I won't dispute that he had dreams of getting terrorists to harass the US on his behalf, nor will I dispute that he had dreams of having WMDs. I just don't think he had the wherewithal, and it was both unnecessary and too risky to blow apart the status quo, especially in a half-assed manner. If GWB truly believed in the case that you present, then he should have taken the time to do it right, both in building international support and in assembling proper and sufficient forces. The comparison between his method and his father's could not be more stark.

You say it's merely a matter of incompetence; I say it went beyond that. I believe that he wanted to kick some ass ASAP for political gain, and this motivation was possibly augmented by an immature sense of revenge and/or a naive belief in the neocon vision of US global hegemony. GWB's whole life has been acting as though anything he wanted to try would be easy, and if it fell apart, he could count on someone bailing him out. He never wants to invest the effort into really doing something; instead, he just wants to be seen to be doing something.

As I say, I doubt you agree with any of that, and I doubt there's any way for me to make you budge. But I do thank you for offering something beyond what I usually hear from most people who are still defending Bush.

Brendon this is the most honest assessment of the Iraq situation I have ever read from you. It is really nice to see you drop the rhetoric and and discuss the issue on this basis. I can appreciate that you believe that Saddam was contained. I would argue that it was more constrained than contained, the rampant corruption of the oil for food program provided him funds, but even this willingness to constrain what he was doing was rapidly deteriorating. You should go read some back issue of Foreign Affairs, from this time, and you will notice a trend of ever increasing pessimism as to the possibility of continuing to get reauthorization of the sanctions regime that was maintaining this constraint. While I believe that the sanctions regime was necessary to constrain Saddam it was also a humanitarian nightmare for the Iraqi people especially the Shiite population and I would hope that we in the never have to use such a broad and comprehensive sanctions regime again for it is only the general population that pays the price.

It is easy to criticize the conduct of the occupation as incompetent, as many on both the right and left now do, as mistakes in judgments become obvious in the short term while correct decisions remain below the fold. At some point in the future, when passions have cooled and egos no longer need to be assuaged, a through analysis of the situation will reveal the balance. Mistakes have been made in all our wars and as always it is American service men and women who pay that price, as have the Iraqi populace in this instance. But to base ones decisions about what to do in the here and now to move the situation forward in positive direction, not just for us, but for the Iraqis and the ME in general on arguments long since rendered moot, by the march of history, doesn't seem like me to be a means of mistake avoidance.

Wonderment
02-10-2008, 12:36 AM
While I believe that the sanctions regime was necessary to constrain Saddam it was also a humanitarian nightmare for the Iraqi people especially the Shiite population and I would hope that we in the never have to use such a broad and comprehensive sanctions regime again for it is only the general population that pays the price.

At last, we agree on something. The sanctions regime constituted a war on the Iraqi people, which took a heavy toll in poverty, death, disease and displacement.

Wikipedia:


Critics of the sanctions say that over a million Iraqis, disproportionately children, died as a result of them, ... UNICEF announced that 500,000 child deaths have occurred as a result of the sanctions.The sanctions resulted in high rates of malnutrition, lack of medical supplies, and diseases from lack of clean water. Chlorine, was desperately needed to disinfect water supplies, but it was banned from the country due to the potential that it may be used as part of a chemical weapon. On May 10, 1996, Madeleine Albright (U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations at the time) appeared on 60 Minutes and was confronted with statistics of half a million children under five having died as a result of the sanctions. She replied "we think the price is worth it",....

Basically, no one gave a shit, except for Dennis Kucinich type congressional reps. I haven't heard Barack Obama denounce the sanctions either.

None of that horror, however, justifies the far greater horror of the hot war, and it certainly doesn't justify the costs from the US point of view (blood and treasure to the tune of 4000 dead bodies and trillions of dollars).

bjkeefe
02-10-2008, 12:45 AM
Pisc:

Thanks. Maybe we're all moving toward a place where we'll be able to discuss, sensibly, what to do next.

I do agree that there were problems with the containment strategy, and I especially agree with your point about sanctions hurting the people of Iraq more than Saddam. Maybe the situation was bound to get bloody at some point. But I don't believe it needed to happen when it did. War should be the last resort, and we hadn't yet arrived at that point.

I don't have immediate plans to review back issues of Foreign Affairs. I know I would just see them as part of the media drumbeat that led to what I see as a premature invasion. I might do this somewhere down the road, when (if) we get the current mess straightened out. As you say, passions need to be cooled.

piscivorous
02-10-2008, 01:24 AM
Yes but no sanctions no inspectors, no "containment" and Saddam free to do as he chooses. Sometime in life there is not but a Hobbsian choice and where one draws the distinction between which is the lessor of two evils is a judgmental matter that is sure to polarize and divide. Does it make one vile, stupid or ignorant to draw the line in a different place than where you should think it be drawn? Can two people not look at the same set of facts and draw completely different conclusions with out having nefarious design attributed to one and saintly reverence attached to the other?

Since both choices in this case will lead, to borrow your words, "a heavy toll in poverty, death, disease and displacement", how can one even begin to rank which is worse than the other. Not even the Lancet report, as controversial as it is, has put the excess death toll at a million yet so by sheer weight of numbers does not Saddam deserve the distinction, as the greater evil, as it is he who manipulated the sanctions to cause this poverty, death, disease and displacement. The million estimated deaths remember were as of 2003 the year in which the sanctions finally came to an end so extrapolating forward that would have raised the total to what 1.4 million or more and continuing forward to what time in the future.

I understand that you are a pacifist, and that from your perspective war should be avoided at all costs. But at what cost in people suffering poverty, death, disease and displacement, if any, does removing such a malevolence become the larger evil?

piscivorous
02-10-2008, 01:36 AM
No Foreign Affairs is a very non partisan publication and prior to the invasion you would find relevant articles both supporting the invasion and decrying it's folly. But I am not particularly referring to the time immediately prior to the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. The discussion surrounding the sanctions had been going on in that journal as to the efficacy, effects and the sustainability of the sanction regime for quite sometime prior to 9/11.

Wonderment
02-10-2008, 02:23 AM
I understand that you are a pacifist, and that from your perspective war should be avoided at all costs. But at what cost in people suffering poverty, death, disease and displacement, if any, does removing such a malevolence become the larger evil?

Ok, let's say the theory of the war was that taking out SH would result in parades, flowers and a thriving Iraqi democracy, thus turning out to be better for Iraqis than the dictatorship and the sanctions. In that case you can argue that Bush's intentions were legitimate, even noble, and the blunders only came after Saddam was toppled. That is the McCain argument: It's all Rumsfeld's fault.

But that after-the-fact explanation/justification doesn't address why the theory wasn't articulated up front. Instead of your theory, we got a pack of lies about mushroom clouds and non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

The reason they lied is that they knew that if they told the truth -- that it was possible that SH had WMDs, but they didn't know for sure (to put it mildly) -- Congress would never have authorized the war and there would have been no "coalition of the willing."

The big lie that got us into Iraq is a very serious abuse of power. Granting the liars impunity is an invitation to future liars to repeat the folly. We let Bush slide at our peril. He and Cheney should have been impeached.

bjkeefe
02-10-2008, 08:38 AM
pisc:

Okay, I'll keep it in mind. Thanks.

piscivorous
02-10-2008, 08:52 AM
Ok, let's say the theory of the war was that taking out SH would result in parades, flowers and a thriving Iraqi democracy, thus turning out to be better for Iraqis than the dictatorship and the sanctions. In that case you can argue that Bush's intentions were legitimate, even noble, and the blunders only came after Saddam was toppled. That is the McCain argument: It's all Rumsfeld's fault.

But that after-the-fact explanation/justification doesn't address why the theory wasn't articulated up front. Instead of your theory, we got a pack of lies about mushroom clouds and non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

The reason they lied is that they knew that if they told the truth -- that it was possible that SH had WMDs, but they didn't know for sure (to put it mildly) -- Congress would never have authorized the war and there would have been no "coalition of the willing."

The big lie that got us into Iraq is a very serious abuse of power. Granting the liars impunity is an invitation to future liars to repeat the folly. We let Bush slide at our peril. He and Cheney should have been impeached.

This is a fairly no responsive answer to the question of I understand that you are a pacifist, and that from your perspective war should be avoided at all costs. But at what cost in people suffering poverty, death, disease and displacement, if any, does removing such a malevolence become the larger evil?

Instead you return to the standard pablum of President Bush lied, the Administration lied, Secretary of State Powell lied the world lied. My suggestion is that you read the AUF and you will notice that WMDs were not the only reason expressed and articulated for taking Saddam out. While I would agree that there was a heavy emphases placed on the WMD issue; it was by no means the only reason we invaded Iraq as expressed in the AUF or in speeches given by President Bush and others in the Administration.

Tao Jones
02-10-2008, 11:02 AM
Instead you return to the standard pablum of President Bush lied, the Administration lied, Secretary of State Powell lied the world lied. My suggestion is that you read the AUF and you will notice that WMDs were not the only reason expressed and articulated for taking Saddam out. While I would agree that there was a heavy emphases placed on the WMD issue; it was by no means the only reason we invaded Iraq as expressed in the AUF or in speeches given by President Bush and others in the Administration.

The heavy focus on WMD's was certainly a political mistake, but I would consider using unconfirmed reports to create a connection to Al-Qaeda the nail in the coffin. At the time, I had heard contrary reports that Saddam considered Al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist movements to be his enemies. This is one of the things that makes Clinton's support of the war so maddening. Either she was convinced by this dubious information, or she didn't challenge it for political reasons. Neither scenario is very reassuring to me.

The resolution's strongest points were getting Saddam out of office, which was one success of the war. But the questions remain, why Saddam, and at what cost (http://rawstory.com/news/2007/CNN_Price_of_Iraq_war_10_1102.html)?

TwinSwords
02-10-2008, 11:02 AM
Can two people not look at the same set of facts and draw completely different conclusions with out having nefarious design attributed to one and saintly reverence attached to the other?
People aren't evil because of the conclusions they draw from a set of facts. They are evil because of their deeds, or because of what they advocate. Deliberate slaughter of a million people is evil. Advocating that slaughter is evil. Blundering efforts to do good that have unintended consequences may be stupid and contemptible, but hardly evil. (Good and Evil really are the wrong words to be using anyway, as life is not a comic book, or the Bible for that matter.)



Not even the Lancet report, as controversial as it is, has put the excess death toll at a million yet
The Lancet study covered a span of about 3 years and 3 months, from March 2003 – June 2006. Assuming the same rate of death from June, 2006 through today, there would be at least 318,000 additional deaths through January, 2008, for a total of 972,000, putting Bush in Pol Pot territory.

But there is no reason to assume the same rate of death after the study because violence was escalating dramatically by June, 2006, and every one of the 12 months that followed was more violent than any of the 39 months covered by the Lancet study. Therefore, assuming the Lancet's methodology was correct and assuming you can extropolate from the higher rate of death following the conclusion of the study, it's all but certain Bush's slaughter rate is now well in excess of 1,000,000 souls — putting him solidly in Pol Pot territory.




so by sheer weight of numbers does not Saddam deserve the distinction, as the greater evil
Maybe we can engrave that on the George Bush nickle: "Still less of a butcher than Saddam." Woohoo!




as it is he who manipulated the sanctions to cause this poverty, death, disease and displacement.
Oh, come on. You can't be serious, trying to blame Saddam for the deaths caused by the sanctions? I'm sure he exacerbated the problem, but it's ridiculous to say he caused it.




I understand that you are a pacifist, and that from your perspective war should be avoided at all costs. But at what cost in people suffering poverty, death, disease and displacement, if any, does removing such a malevolence become the larger evil?
Well, that would be a good question if your solution had better results than the status quo, but it hasn't.

Can I ask you a question: How do you factor in the problem of breeding new terrorist threats against the US? Would you concede that Bush's War has inflamed our enemies, alienated our allies, and created many more threats to the security of the United States than existed prior to the 2003 invasion?

TwinSwords
02-10-2008, 11:19 AM
Instead you return to the standard pablum of President Bush lied, the Administration lied, Secretary of State Powell lied the world lied.
Uh, no, Wonderment didn't say "the world lied." You just slipped that in there, I'm sure as a way to inject another Weekly Standard talking point to the effect that "the whole world thought Saddam had WMDs!"



My suggestion is that you read the AUF and you will notice that WMDs were not the only reason expressed and articulated for taking Saddam out. While I would agree that there was a heavy emphases placed on the WMD issue; it was by no means the only reason we invaded Iraq as expressed in the AUF or in speeches given by President Bush and others in the Administration.
Give it a rest, you're rewriting history and I'm sure you know it. Nobody here ever said it was "the only reason" given for the invasion. We're all well aware that Bush threw out any excuse he and Karen Hughes could think of. For example, he and his Dick of a Vice President also extensively lied about connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and implied Saddam was involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The point (as you know) is that the entire case for war hinged on the claims that Saddam represented an "imminent danger" to the United States. Establishing the credibility of that assertion was central to the Administration's efforts to manipulate the public and the press. The discussion about the war in the nine months leading up to the invasion were focused primarily on the nature of the "imminent threat."

If you want to persist in your denial of reality, I suggest you read Bush's State of the Union from 2003, his Cincinnati speech of October 7, 2002 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021007-8.html), or Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations (http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/02/05/sprj.irq.powell.transcript/) on February 6, 2003.

piscivorous
02-10-2008, 12:28 PM
People aren't evil because of the conclusions they draw from a set of facts. They are evil because of their deeds, or because of what they advocate. Deliberate slaughter of a million people is evil. Advocating that slaughter is evil. Blundering efforts to do good that have unintended consequences may be stupid and contemptible, but hardly evil. (Good and Evil really are the wrong words to be using anyway, as life is not a comic book, or the Bible for that matter.)
Like most words "good" and "evil" are merely physical manifestations of abstract ideas and that the imagery, if you will, of the religious and propagandist context associated with these two words make them misguided in this discussion; for me the are approbate euphemisms for use in this case. It is nice to see that you have removed President Bush from the common leftest tripe of being nefariously evil to the just as prevalent talking point of "stupid and contemptible." From this I must conclude that you must be a supporter of Senator Obama with such let us heal the divide rhetoric.
The Lancet study covered a span of about 3 years and 3 months, from March 2003 – June 2006. Assuming the same rate of death from June, 2006 through today, there would be at least 318,000 additional deaths through January, 2008, for a total of 972,000, putting Bush in Pol Pot territory.

But there is no reason to assume the same rate of death after the study because violence was escalating dramatically by June, 2006, and every one of the 12 months that followed was more violent than any of the 39 months covered by the Lancet study. Therefore, assuming the Lancet's methodology was correct and assuming you can extropolate from the higher rate of death following the conclusion of the study, it's all but certain Bush's slaughter rate is now well in excess of 1,000,000 souls — putting him solidly in Pol Pot territory. As to a report from a couple of avoid anti Iraq Invasion advocates, whose work is most generously funded by primarily left wing individuals and groups, that refuse to release detailed data and methodology, so that it can you know be properly "peer reviewed", the release of the which was timed to coincide with the election cycle in an obvious attempt to influence that election, that is essentially an order of magnitude different than every other effort to estimate the same thing. That Lancet report? Arguing over it's validity is an exercise in futility which I choose not to imbibe in.
Maybe we can engrave that on the George Bush nickle: "Still less of a butcher than Saddam." Woohoo! I did like this one tough.
Oh, come on. You can't be serious, trying to blame Saddam for the deaths caused by the sanctions? I'm sure he exacerbated the problem, but it's ridiculous to say he caused it. Actually I guess that you could blame it on the British as it is they, I believe, that drew the maps establishing Kuwait as a separate entity. But since the sanctions came about as a consequence of Saddam's invasion of Kuwait he can be directly blamed for the sanctions themselves irregardless of the percentage of the poverty, death, disease and displacement the you feel comfortable in assigning to the corruption and manipulation of the Oil for Food program.
Well, that would be a good question if your solution had better results than the status quo, but it hasn't.

Can I ask you a question: How do you factor in the problem of breeding new terrorist threats against the US? Would you concede that Bush's War has inflamed our enemies, alienated our allies, and created many more threats to the security of the United States than existed prior to the 2003 invasion?One would have to be blind not to admit that our enemies will not use our actions to try and recruit others to there cause and that both battles in the Iraq front and Afghanistan front have to some extent a help in such recruiting efforts. To what extent that has occurred is not even a really debatable point as it would all be just wild speculation and posturing. Perhaps there has been enough intelligence gathered at this point for someone in possession of this intelligence could make a reasonable estimate at this point but I don't think that you or I shall see it for at least another 20 years or so baring some leak. I would add that the degree to which Iraq can be used as a recruiting tools is not static and that it's usefulness now is probably different than in earlier stages of the occupation. If the reaction to al-Qaeda, in Anbar province were to be looked at as a indirect metric of Iraq as a recruiting prowess at this point in time I would say it has significantly degraded. I would also point out that many of these said new recruits were sent to Iraq and are not rotting corpses buried in the sands throughout the Middle East, something which I am quite unapologetic for.

piscivorous
02-10-2008, 12:46 PM
Uh, no, Wonderment didn't say "the world lied." You just slipped that in there, I'm sure as a way to inject another Weekly Standard talking point to the effect that "the whole world thought Saddam had WMDs!" You are quit right I deliberately included this because it just so happens that most if not every major intelligence agency in the world and the leaders of the countries to which those intelligence agencies belonged are on record as to agreeing with the assessment the Saddam possessed both WMD programs and weapons. So if all the others are to be included in the standard leftest construct of conspiracy of liars it is only natural to include the most if not all the world that agreed in this conspiracy. Give it a rest, you're rewriting history and I'm sure you know it. Nobody here ever said it was "the only reason" given for the invasion. We're all well aware that Bush threw out any excuse he and Karen Hughes could think of. For example, he and his Dick of a Vice President also extensively lied about connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and implied Saddam was involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The point (as you know) is that the entire case for war hinged on the claims that Saddam represented an "imminent danger" to the United States. Establishing the credibility of that assertion was central to the Administration's efforts to manipulate the public and the press. The discussion about the war in the nine months leading up to the invasion were focused primarily on the nature of the "imminent threat."

If you want to persist in your denial of reality, I suggest you read Bush's State of the Union from 2003, his Cincinnati speech of October 7, 2002 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021007-8.html), or Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations (http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/02/05/sprj.irq.powell.transcript/) on February 6, 2003. As I have said before the year is now 2008 and arguing about events that history has long rendered moot is useless and results in just talking past or through one another and I generally will refuse to partake in such a meaning less exercise.

petty boozswha
02-10-2008, 01:21 PM
"Oh, come on. You can't be serious, trying to blame Saddam for the deaths caused by the sanctions? I'm sure he exacerbated the problem, but it's ridiculous to say he caused it." - TwinSwords

This is what we on the right find exasperating. Saddam could have joined the world community and the world economy at any time - all he had to do was abide by the ceasefire agreement he signed in 1991 and the 17 UN resolutions that tried to enforce it. I've read that when Saddam took power Iraq had a standard of living equivalent to Australia's, when he was removed the people were starving. I'd also like to point out Colin Powell's #1 foreign policy goal up to 9/10/01 was trying to negotiate smart sanctions, and we were effectively checkmated by our purported allies from relieving the suffering of the Iraqi people. Despite all the spin and the obstinance and incompetence since, I still believe Colin Powell had more integrity than Jacques Chirac, reluctant war mongers like Josh Marshall, Ken Pollack or Chris Hitchens had more integrity than Richard Clarke or Joe Wilson, and the Americans and our allies were and are the good guys in this drama, not the "insurgents."

Wonderment
02-10-2008, 04:15 PM
This is a fairly no[n] responsive answer to the question of

"I understand that you are a pacifist, and that from your perspective war should be avoided at all costs. But at what cost in people suffering poverty, death, disease and displacement, if any, does removing such a malevolence become the larger evil?

I didn't directly address that question for two reasons: 1) I wanted to point out that you don't have to be a pacifist to find Bush's crimes horrific and impeachable, and 2) these kinds of question are always set-ups for pacifists:

The typical warist approach to pacifism is to invent a hypothetical that makes any pacifist look like an idiot. (The same approach works for torture apologists with the "ticking time bomb" fantasy).

So yes, if I KNEW (not had a hunch or surmised) that by pressing a magic button in 2002 and vaporizing Saddam Hussein, the net number of Iraqi lives saved would be in the thousands, I would press the button. Also, if a maniacal rapist shoot my child and promised to do the same to all the other children in the classroom, I'd defend them by killing the perp. Finally, when I capture Osama on my walk on the beach today, and when he twirls his moustache and boasts that as we speak his posse is in the middle of a backwards count to blow up Los Angeles, yes, I'll start waterboarding him as the evil fiends approach zero hour minus 5 minutes.

The problem is that all this calculus of the supposed limits of nonviolence are never the either-or, painted-into-a-corner scenarios that its authors suggest.

In real life, there are almost always infinite alternatives to violence, and the question to ask on the very rare occasions that you really do get painted into a corner is what could have been done to avoid getting to this point, and what can we learn to avoid it in the future?

For example, I might learn from the maniacal rapist case that we cannot neglect prevention of violence and early intervention in children before they become killers. Perhaps his mother was a drug addict without treatment opportunities. Perhaps his dad was a violent pimp. Perhaps the social programs that used to treat such people were cut to spend more money for our nuclear weapons budget. Perhaps the school needed to have a security guard at the front door. Perhaps we need to ask where and how he got the gun (and who profited from it). These are some of the dozens of questions we can ask that can lead us in retrospect to understand the violence and to prevent future violence through nonviolent means.

The same philosophy works on terrorism and war. That's why the questions on Iraq cannot be limited to the maniacal Bush. You have to ask how did Iraq come into being in the first place (hint: British imperialism); how did Saddam come to power and who supported him; why do nukes and other WMD exist and proliferate in the first place; what role did the Clinton administration play in setting up the fiasco; how did Bush get elected?

Now you may have lots of different answers to these questions. For example, you may say Bush got elected because idiots like me voted for Ralph Nader, or you may say Bush got elected because of war-crazed neo-cons who wanted their guy in power. But no matter what the answers are, the questions provide choices of nonviolence all along the way that could have prevented the time bomb from going off long before it started ticking.

There's another one being constructed now. Choose peace.

piscivorous
02-10-2008, 05:06 PM
And a frog wouldn't bump his ass on the ground every time he jumped if he had wings. But unfortunately, from the frogs perspective, evolution has left them without wings and his posterior pays the price. Just as evolution has given man the ability to be cruel beyond measure and thirst for blood and violence. And just as unfortunately for mankind we must deal with the realties of the real world in real time with some really nasty actors on th stage.

I personally don't remember trying to trap you in any dialog we have had, but then I may be wrong I am getting up there in age and the say that the sort time memory is the first to go. It was an attempt to see what level, if there is any level, of malevolence that you find so repugnant that the removal of it from the face of the earth is acceptable and to gage where you draw the line.

P.S. When I first read yo post it appeared accusatory to me and the snark about the frog was in response to this misinterpretation. Having reread it I see is is more generic in nature and hope you forgive me for snark in the comment but it is not irrelevant to the point of we are where we are like it or not.

Wonderment
02-10-2008, 06:33 PM
When I first read yo post it appeared accusatory to me and the snark about the frog was in response to this misinterpretation. Having reread it I see is is more generic in nature and hope you forgive me for snark in the comment but it is not irrelevant to the point of we are where we are like it or not.

No problem, Pscivorous. Mild snark never bothers me. You'd have to call me a stupid fucking asshole (or the equivalent) to offend me. Thanks for keeping the level of discourse civil.

Have a great rest of the weekend.

TwinSwords
02-10-2008, 07:04 PM
You are quit right I deliberately included this because it just so happens that most if not every major intelligence agency in the world and the leaders of the countries to which those intelligence agencies belonged are on record as to agreeing with the assessment the Saddam possessed both WMD programs and weapons. So if all the others are to be included in the standard leftest construct of conspiracy of liars it is only natural to include the most if not all the world that agreed in this conspiracy.
Oh, really?

"As I have said before the year is now 2008 and arguing about events that history has long rendered moot is useless and results in just talking past or through one another and I generally will refuse to partake in such a meaning less exercise."

piscivorous
02-10-2008, 07:53 PM
Aren't you the clever one. Take a quote of my completely out of context, in which it was delivered, and then juxtapose it with another one of mind. I think I gave up that style of argumentation in Jr. High.

TwinSwords
02-10-2008, 09:19 PM
Aren't you the clever one. Take a quote of my completely out of context, in which it was delivered, and then juxtapose it with another one of mind. I think I gave up that style of argumentation in Jr. High.

Can you tell me what the guidelines are for when something is so hopelessly out of date as to be not worth discussing, and when it is still a valid topic of conversation?

piscivorous
02-10-2008, 09:30 PM
Well when infinite debate and pontification can have no effect on whether an event occurs or not because you know the decision was made and acted on 4 years ago seems like fairly good criteria to me. Or then it could be that it is when I say so because it's my world and you just live it. Your choice.

cragger
02-11-2008, 07:39 PM
What a bunch of typin' fools. I swear I have read this very same thread at least 3 times before. Can't say I have seen much evidence of opinions changing, hard as that is to imagine on an internet forum. The web is going to open our minds, expose us to new ideas, and usher in a new age of enlightenment isn't it? Maybe I was misinformed.

Since the backers of the dogs of war seem considerably more strident in this fight, a couple of questions. Skipping therefore any questions to the others regarding the morality, cost, consequences, alternatives, etc. and addressing the stated "need for the war" or "case for the war":

This case seems generally based on the memes "sanctions were slowly failing", "Saddam would therefore eventually rearm", and "this would be a disaster for the US", therefore the war was right, necessary, a good cost-benefit decision, whatever. Toss in "everybody who matters thought he had WMD". Is that a reasonably accurate summary?

Immediately before the invasion, arms inspectors had unfettered access to all of Iraq. Leaving aside what conclusions "everybody who matters" (outside the administration) were drawing by the time of the attack, and given US troops on the border, why would one not believe inspectors could have continued to look in every building, until it became obvious to even the most biased that there were in fact no WMD? Why the immediate need to attack? Was the urgency based more on a sense of growing danger, or on the possibility that the case for war was weakening based on what have proved to be accurate inspection reports?

Supposing inspections had continued until everyone was satisfied that there were no WMD at that time. The US military stated before the invasion that the Iraqi military was roughly 1/3 the size it was before Iraq War I, that its equipment was 10 years older, worse for wear, and 10 years farther out of date than it had been last go round, and further that the Iraqi military was focused on internal security, i.e. keeping Saddams butt on the throne, and not on its neighbors. These two facts, the absence of WMD and an Iraqi military much weaker than the last time it tried unsuccessfully to be agressive would seem to indicate a lack of urgency to launch a war on the place. Is lack of urgency for the war not so?

Given that ol' Saddam was pushing 70 when killed, suppose that everybody got happy with the inspectors reports after another year or so, the US troops came home, and sanctions continued to weaken. This is the speculation about some worst case for the future, no?

Given that in both wars, the US squashed the Iraqi military like a sledgehammer on an egg, what is a likely worst case result of Iraqi slow and stealthy rearmament? Remember they got a lot of their old equipment during the Cold War before the Soviet breakup and Russia hasn't been throwing nearly the $ and hardware around to client states since.

At his strongest and with the friendship and support of the US, Saddam tried to resolve his border issues with Iran to his advantage and had no success. He gave up on that as too hard, and went for something easier and tried to reincorporate much smaller Kuwait into a view of a "historical greater Iraq". Got stomped even worse. By all accounts spent the next 10 years busy keeping himself alive and in power in Iraq.

So posit a sneaky "oil for food" skim-off for a trickle of military buildup. Speculate to the extreme that he reaches '91 military levels in 10 more years. Having gotten his butt kicked going east to Iran, and south to Kuwait, what is the easier target he could and would turn that military on, having found nothing but failure so far? How much farther could he try to push the military without winding up a coup victim?

How long did Saddam's regime have left? By the time he could conceivably have rebuilt anything, Saddam would be 80. Rebuild a tad slower, or have a little bad luck and he would be dead first. Given the attention he needed to keep his head on his shoulders and his ass on the throne, and given his evident smarts and talent for survival, should any reasonable person think that his sons, best described by the terms "waste-o, playboy, pervert, and degenerate" would last for long to perputate the regime?

Absent any immediate threat in '03 when the war was launched, what is the speculative case for the future danger? Is it that starting from scratch, with no "program", no facilities, no friends, and despite the restriction of some degree of world oversight however effective or lacking, years down the line but before his demise Saddam would somehow build a nuke and then decide to give it up and hand it over to the nearest terrorist group, despite his emnity with them thus far, to do with as they pleased?

Skipping any "he was a bad boy and it offends the sensibilities that he was around" and getting to the core of the case that it was a wise, necessary, or reasonable decison to launch this war, is the possibility that a real threat might emerge sometime in the future the case for it?

TwinSwords
02-12-2008, 01:00 AM
Good piece, cragger. You made many great points. In particular, I think you are right to wonder if the urgency behind the rush to war was based on the administration's fear that its WMD rationale was collapsing. Bush wanted war. Period.

The real question is why. There are a lot of theories, but is there a consensus among the reality-based about why Bush/Cheney were so anxious to invade Iraq?

bjkeefe
02-12-2008, 06:27 AM
Twin:

Good piece, cragger. You made many great points.

I second that, wholeheartedly. Very nice effort, cragger.

The real question is why. There are a lot of theories, but is there a consensus among the reality-based about why Bush/Cheney were so anxious to invade Iraq?

I don't know, but I'm pretty sure that most of us could agree that Bush came into office with a strong desire to invade Iraq, or at least the team he brought in was of that mindset.

I think there was a combination of factors contributing to this mindset: desire to deal with a situation that was viewed as an ongoing problem (worries that the Saddam containment strategy was failing), the neocon outlook of US hegemony as a good thing, especially in that region, and closely related: the wish to have more of a big stick presence to ensure smooth oil flows. I don't think, myself, that it was as crass as "wanting to steal the Iraqi oil;" I just think that Saddam was seen as a potential disruptive force that could cause world oil prices to fluctuate to an undesirable degree.

After 9/11, I think additional factors arose, in particular, the all-too-common desire of politicians to be seen to be doing something. Just going after the Taliban in Afghanistan didn't feel like enough. I also think that there was a gut feeling that Saddam was involved with terrorist groups in the Middle East, possibly supported by some evidence (e.g., payments to families of suicide bombers in Israel). These two probably got combined to produce a sense that the entire Middle East was too unstable to tolerate, and it would be good for everybody if the US went in as the cop on the beat.

Okay, these are really more my own guesses than a true summing up of the consensus view. On the other hand, my views come, at least in part, from hearing others talk, so maybe what I wrote does reflect the consensus to some degree.

What do people agree and disagree with, among my hypothesized motivations?

piscivorous
02-12-2008, 07:58 AM
Here is a short part of an interview Senator Obama dis with 60 minutes (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/07/60minutes/main3804268_page2.shtml) about Iraq.

"And you pull out according to that time table, regardless of the situation? Even if there’s serious sectarian violence?" Kroft asked.

"No, I always reserve as commander in chief, the right to assess the situation,"

Even if it takes say 100 years

piscivorous
02-12-2008, 08:33 AM
This case seems generally based on the memes "sanctions were slowly
So posit a sneaky "oil for food" skim-off for a trickle of military buildup. Speculate to the extreme that he reaches '91 military levels in 10 more years. Having gotten his butt kicked going east to Iran, and south to Kuwait, what is the easier target he could and would turn that military on, having found nothing but failure so far? How much farther could he try to push the military without winding up a coup victim?That is a fairly accurate summary. But you seem to discount the efficacy of Saddam's military, and I agree it sucked, while making light of his history of WMD development and use. If you can account for how he would have restrained when here were no longer any sanctions because there were no WMDs so there were no longer any inspections your argument might be more compelling.


How long did Saddam's regime have left? By the time he could conceivably have rebuilt anything, Saddam would be 80. Rebuild a tad slower, or have a little bad luck and he would be dead first. Given the attention he needed to keep his head on his shoulders and his ass on the throne, and given his evident smarts and talent for survival, should any reasonable person think that his sons, best described by the terms "waste-o, playboy, pervert, and degenerate" would last for long to perputate the regime?
Which of his sons, do you believe would have made the better ruler? And by what evidence do conclude that the more ruthless of them would not have been able to hold power?

As to your plea for speculation see
Red vs Blue Part 1 (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=70015#post70015)

Red vs Blue Part 2 (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=70021#post70021)

bjkeefe
02-12-2008, 09:06 AM
Even if it takes say 100 years

If the best you have against Obama's statement about the Iraq mess is a false equivalence with McCain's stated position, you got nothing.

bjkeefe
02-12-2008, 09:08 AM
pisc:

Which of his sons, do you believe would have made the better ruler?

That thought crossed my mind, too. On the other hand, there's just as much reason to believe they would have had a mutually destructive power struggle, and/or they would have amounted to pretty poor rulers. From the little I've seen about their lives, I am of the impression that they were spoiled children, Granted, one of the areas in which they were indulged is allowing their sadism to go unchecked, but I don't think that would have been enough to hold power as a national leader.

piscivorous
02-12-2008, 09:31 AM
Not really that much difference between any of the reality of candidates positions vis-a-vis the need to keep the Middle East from descending into chaos. It is only it their rhetoric that there are symbolic differences. A future President Obama will be constrained in his actions about what he can or can't do by the reality on the ground in Iraq as he confesses fully in his answer to the question.

piscivorous
02-12-2008, 12:21 PM
To try and include data in a comment that can actually be used to backup an argument is f**king impossible. So the readers will have to parse this tabular data as best they can given the bulls**t limitations placed by this site on the use of generally accepted BBCode. The data itself is Year, US Troop Levels, South Vietnamese Troop Levels, President, Party Affiliation, Senate Composition and House Composition (Democrat, Republican, Other) , I hope this explanation helps since nothing can be formated.

Year US SV President Party S D/R/O H D/R/O
1959 760 243000 Dwight D. Eisenhower R 65/35 283/153/1
1960 900 243000 Dwight D. Eisenhower R 65/35 283/153/1
1961 3205 243000 John F. Kennedy D 63/37 263/174
1962 11300 243000 John F. Kennedy D 63/37 263/174
1963 16300 243000 John F. Kennedy D 63/37 259/176
1964 23300 514000 Lyndon B. Johnson D 63/37 259/176
1965 184300 642500 Lyndon B. Johnson D 68/32 295/140
1966 385300 735900 Lyndon B. Johnson D 68/32 295/140
1967 485600 798700 Lyndon B. Johnson D 64/36 247/187
1968 536100 820000 Lyndon B. Johnson D 64/36 247/187
1969 475200 897000 Richard Nixon R 57/43 234/192
1970 334600 968000 Richard Nixon R 57/43 234/192
1971 156800 1046250 Richard Nixon R 54/44/2 255/180
1972 24200 1048000 Richard Nixon R 54/44/2 255/180
1973 50 1110000 Richard Nixon R 56/42/2 292/192/1

I have always found it curious that Vietnam got tagged as President Nixon's War. In reality it was President Eisenhower's war which President Kennedy escalated and President Johnson really committed us to. President Nixon spent approximately 4 years getting us out yet he gets tagged with the "loss" associated with Vietnam in 1975 when we had like 50 troops there. Yes there were other Americans there but the were the spooks and getting there numbers is somewhat more troublesome.

So as a hypothetical if the situation in Iraq remains stabilized in January 2009 when the new president takes over, and that president draws down the forces to the point beyond which stability can be retained who will be responsible for the loss in Iraq and quite possible the destabilization of the ME.

TwinSwords
02-12-2008, 03:30 PM
My suggestion is that you read the AUF and you will notice that WMDs were not the only reason expressed and articulated for taking Saddam out. While I would agree that there was a heavy emphases placed on the WMD issue; it was by no means the only reason we invaded Iraq as expressed in the AUF or in speeches given by President Bush and others in the Administration.

Here's an episode of Charlie Rose from April 10, 2003. It contains a clip of Bush and Blair speaking to the Iraqi people.

Blair gives the Iraqi people precisely one reason for the invasion:

"We did not want this war, but in refusing to give up his weapons of mass destruction, Saddam gave us no choice but to act. Now that the war has begun, it will be seen through to the end. [...] Our enemy is Saddam and his regime, not the Iraqi people."

Blair tells the Iraqi why we invaded their country (WMD) at the 2:50 mark.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EtWMxiiNW0

Wonderment
02-12-2008, 03:38 PM
I have always found it curious that Vietnam got tagged as President Nixon's War.

Believe me, anyone who actually lived through it doesn't think of it as Nixon's war. "Hey hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?"

Nixon ran on ending the war. He just wanted to end it his way, with a massive escalation of mass murder, secret bombings of Cambodia, etc. But there is no question that Johnson lied us into the worst carnage of the war (Gulf of Tonkin Resolution).

Note the insidious scope of Tonkin, providing Nixon future cover for Cambodia and Laos:

"The outcome of the incident was the passage by Congress of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted President Lyndon Johnson the authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by "communist aggression". The resolution served as Johnson's legal justification for escalating American involvement in the Vietnam Conflict, which lasted until 1975."

Wonderment
02-12-2008, 03:57 PM
Speculating about what Iraq would have looked like in 2023 without US aggression is a bit ridiculous.

There is no logic to Bush apologetics, and fantasizing about an unknowable future does not absolve the war criminals.

David Frum or some other Bush whore can do his dance around the facts from now till doomsday, and it still makes no sense.

"We did it to rid the world of an evil tyrant, whether he had WMDs or not" is the lamest of excuses. Why not bomb the shit out of Havana and a couple of other dozen countries on that logic?

Saddam was NOT hooked up with Al Qaeda, as suggested by Bush propagandists.

Saddam had ZERO WMDs, as asserted as fact by Bush, Cheney, Powell and Rumsfeld.

I don't know why the US went on a crazy rampage in Iraq. I don't think there is a simple answer.

Maybe it's a perfect storm of oil interests, neo-con ideology run amok, the Bush homicidal/sociopathic personality, post 9/11 traumatic stress disorder, American imperial hegemony doing its thing, the perils of unilateralism, flawed group-think reinforcing itself and bunkered down and sheltered from voices of reason, Republican contempt for the UN, an unprecedented concentration of power in a fanatical vice president's office, anti-Arab racism rearing its ugly head, etc. , etc.

All those factors can be introduced as mitigating factors during the sentencing phase of Bush's war crimes trial.

TwinSwords
02-12-2008, 03:59 PM
the bulls**t limitations placed by this site on the use of generally accepted BBCode.
For sure. I hope they will get around to restoring some of this basic functionality. Not being able to use anything but plain text is primitive and annoying. Oh, at least we can use italics! Woo!



I have always found it curious that Vietnam got tagged as President Nixon's War.
What a strange perception. I can only assume this is right-wing insecurity, or bitterness, or something. Never in my life have I ever heard anyone characterize it as "President Nixon's War." Anyone who said such a thing would be showing true ignorance, because it is common knowledge that the war was raging before Nixon became president. It is common knowledge that LBJ was responsible for the real escalation, and that the reason he didn't run in 1968 was because of the war. And it is common knowledge America inhereted the war from the French in the 1950s.



President Nixon ... gets tagged with the "loss" associated with Vietnam
Tagged by whom? Again, this sounds very strange to my ears. In my life I've never heard anyone "tag" Nixon with the loss. Is it conservatives who are doing this?

To start with, most people and historians do not think of Vietnam as a "loss." (Even you put the word "loss" in quotes.) Most view Vietnam not as a loss, but as a war we simply decided to walk away from. We decided that winning the war wasn't worth the continued cost in lives, treasure, and international standing. In addition, public support for the war had evaporated; The conflict was destabilizing the social and political order at home. Americans were not willing to continue commiting the atrocities necessary to win. It would have been necessary to kill millions more Vietnamese, Cambodians and Loatians, and there was just no support for that plan.

The only people who refer to the conclusion of the war in Vietnam as "a loss" are diehard conservatives, military enthusiasts, and the aggressively pro-war segment of the population — people who sings songs like "Bomb Iran." These are people who always advocate war, whatever the circumstances. And this segment of the population does not blame Nixon for "the loss." Far from it. They blame "the protesters" (i.e., the American people), and the cowardly Democrats in Congress.

As you must surely be aware, it has been the Democrats who have been "tagged" by the right-wing as losing Vietnam. Granted: This has been a fairly small segment of the population until recently, as most Americans have always understood that we had to leave Vietnam in our own self-interest.

Are you one of those who wishes we had stayed in Vietnam?



So as a hypothetical if the situation in Iraq remains stabilized in January 2009 when the new president takes over, and that president draws down the forces to the point beyond which stability can be retained who will be responsible for the loss in Iraq and quite possible the destabilization of the ME.
You're telling us what Republicans are going to do. In fact, you won't even wait until your scenario plays out. Republicans are already accusing Democrats of undercutting the war — you have been for years. For Republicans, there are only two possible outcomes: Either we fight the war forever (a thousand years, to quote the Republican nominee), or we let the Democrats "surrender," to use the word preferred by Romney and McCain.

Hell, Republicans accuse Democrats of surrendering every time they hesitate before expanding the scope of the PATRIOT Act, or resist granting immunity for crimes committed by the telecom industry.

So pisc, I think you will agree: No matter what happens in the future, you people will be accusing Democrats of losing the war and surrendering to the enemy. It's what you do.

TwinSwords
02-12-2008, 04:18 PM
"We did it to rid the world of an evil tyrant, whether he had WMDs or not" is the lamest of excuses. Why not bomb the shit out of Havana and a couple of other dozen countries on that logic?
They would love to. As far as they are concerned, the only reason we don't is because American Will has been watered down by the weakness of Democrats and liberals.

For a moment after 9/11, the conservatives were lathered up into a drooling frenzy because they really did think we were going to fight a war against every bad guy in the world. They talked openly and frequently about their desire to take out Syria and Iran following Iraq. Back in 2003, they expected this would happen before the end of Bush's presidency. They said this was not just desirable, but necessary.

They really are in the grip of a frightening and dangerous fever.

Wonderment
02-12-2008, 04:49 PM
For a moment after 9/11, the conservatives were lathered up into a drooling frenzy because they really did think we were going to fight a war against every bad guy in the world. They talked openly and frequently about their desire to take out Syria and Iran following Iraq. Back in 2003, they expected this would happen before the end of Bush's presidency. They said this was not just desirable, but necessary.


All the more reason to hold them accountable. The Iraq holocaust should not only go down in history as a war we waged because our leaders lied and cooked the intelligence, but also because they pursued an insane ideology of conversion to "democracy" by the sword.

Letting the perps get away with the "But he was a very bad guy" excuse is especially dangerous.

They will use that forever as their eraser for everything dishonest, vicious and barbaric that they've done. No WMDS? No link to Bin Laden? No threat to his neighbors? 4,000 American soldiers and 100s of thousands of Iraqis dead? Doesn't matter. All worth it. He was a very bad guy.

TwinSwords
02-12-2008, 04:53 PM
No WMDS? No link to Bin Laden? No threat to his neighbors? 4,000 American soldiers and 100s of thousands of Iraqis dead? Doesn't matter. All worth it. He was a very bad guy.

Yeah. It is just disgusting.

So let me ask you: What's your gut feeling about November? Do you think the Democratic candidate will be able to overcome the billion dollar smear campaign that will be launched against them, and all the media suggestions that they want to surrender to Al Qaeda? Or do you think McCain will win?

piscivorous
02-12-2008, 05:02 PM
While having lived through it (literately) and pretty remember President Johnson as my CC when you do a google search for Nixon's war 407,000 hits and only 265,000 for Johnson's war. So my imagination must be working overtime!

piscivorous
02-12-2008, 05:09 PM
I'm sure that somewhere on intrade you can find someone taking bets on when Bush will be tried for the war crimes but I'm not sure that there will be any payout soon so don't place your retirement funds there.

TwinSwords
02-12-2008, 05:29 PM
While having lived through it (literately) and pretty remember President Johnson as my CC when you do a google search for Nixon's war 407,000 hits and only 265,000 for Johnson's war. So my imagination must be working overtime!

When you don't include quotes around the phrase Nixon's War, you get erroneous results, such as
— "Bush has declared war on the environment, says Richard Nixon,"
— "Khrushchev and Nixon have war of words."

When you put quotes around "Nixon's War" to avoid this problem, you get a piddling 6960 hits. And even that includes results like:
— "Jay Nixon's War on Terror"
— "the legacy of Nixon's war on drugs."
— "Nixon's war on smut"
— "Comparing Bush and Nixon's war speeches"

Among the remaining results that actually refer to Vietnam, most appear to be discussing the phase of the war when Nixon was president, i.e., contrasting "Nixon's war" and "Johnson's war," e.g.:

— "Johnson's war becomes Nixon's war"
— "Nixon's War (1969–70)"

You also get people denying the war was the fault of Nixon:

— "Not Nixon's war"


So, yeah, your imagination has a lot to do with it.

piscivorous
02-12-2008, 05:41 PM
I almost didn't reply to this as I really don't feel like perpetuating a line of dialog of such disingenuousnes but what the heck. What a strange perception. I can only assume this is right-wing insecurity, or bitterness, or something. Never in my life have I ever heard anyone characterize it as "President Nixon's War." Anyone who said such a thing would be showing true ignorance, because it is common knowledge that the war was raging before Nixon became president. It is common knowledge that LBJ was responsible for the real escalation, and that the reason he didn't run in 1968 was because of the war. And it is common knowledge America inhereted the war from the French in the 1950s.
While our involvement came after the French were defeated I wouldn't call the initial involvement of 760 advisers exactly a major inheritance.
Tagged by whom? Again, this sounds very strange to my ears. In my life I've never heard anyone "tag" Nixon with the loss. Is it conservatives who are doing this?

To start with, most people and historians do not think of Vietnam as a "loss." (Even you put the word "loss" in quotes.) Most view Vietnam not as a loss, but as a war we simply decided to walk away from. We decided that winning the war wasn't worth the continued cost in lives, treasure, and international standing. In addition, public support for the war had evaporated; The conflict was destabilizing the social and political order at home. Americans were not willing to continue commiting the atrocities necessary to win. It would have been necessary to kill millions more Vietnamese, Cambodians and Loatians, and there was just no support for that plan.

The only people who refer to the conclusion of the war in Vietnam as "a loss" are diehard conservatives, military enthusiasts, and the aggressively pro-war segment of the population — people who sings songs like "Bomb Iran." These are people who always advocate war, whatever the circumstances. And this segment of the population does not blame Nixon for "the loss." Far from it. They blame "the protesters" (i.e., the American people), and the cowardly Democrats in Congress.

As you must surely be aware, it has been the Democrats who have been "tagged" by the right-wing as losing Vietnam. Granted: This has been a fairly small segment of the population until recently, as most Americans have always understood that we had to leave Vietnam in our own self-interest. Goggle search Vietnam lost - 817,000 hits. Must be a lot of angry Republicans out there.
Are you one of those who wishes we had stayed in Vietnam?No I would have preferred that the congress lived up to the terms of the treaty we signed instead of abrogating it. I believe that not keeping ones word is also not conducive to garnering trust.
You're telling us what Republicans are going to do. In fact, you won't even wait until your scenario plays out. Republicans are already accusing Democrats of undercutting the war — you have been for years. For Republicans, there are only two possible outcomes: Either we fight the war forever (a thousand years, to quote the Republican nominee), or we let the Democrats "surrender," to use the word preferred by Romney and McCain.

Hell, Republicans accuse Democrats of surrendering every time they hesitate before expanding the scope of the PATRIOT Act, or resist granting immunity for crimes committed by the telecom industry.

So pisc, I think you will agree: No matter what happens in the future, you people will be accusing Democrats of losing the war and surrendering to the enemy. It's what you do.As I am not affiliated with the Republicans I can't speak for them.

Wonderment
02-12-2008, 05:50 PM
So let me ask you: What's your gut feeling about November? Do you think the Democratic candidate will be able to overcome the billion dollar smear campaign that will be launched against them, and all the media suggestions that they want to surrender to Al Qaeda? Or do you think McCain will win?

Don't know, bro.

Too close to call. I was hoping their nominee would NOT be McCain for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I view him as a really dangerous lunatic. But second, (paradoxically?) he's their strongest guy, a formidable electoral opponent for either Barack or Hillary. We'll have to see. A lot can happen between now and November.

bjkeefe
02-12-2008, 05:51 PM
Twin:

A stellar example of analysis, and not just blindly accepting somebody else's statistics.

cragger
02-12-2008, 06:46 PM
Regarding the Iraqi military, yes, I think we have seen demonstrated clearly that its abilities to attack its neighbors were somewhat limited, and that its ability to threaten the US was essentially nonexistant. I am asking what then was the immediate threat to the US that represented a reasonable cause to attack?

I am then asking what a credible timeframe would be for Saddam to develop any greater threat, and whether or not it was likely that he would have been able to do so from scratch in the remainder of his regime. I am also questioning whether there is reason to believe that even with lessening of sanctions the international community would not still have provided restrictions that at the very minimum slowed any development of nuclear capability by Saddam's Iraq.

As to which of his sons would be a "better" ruler, I have no idea, and I suspect "better" as you used it means better at maintaining power, and not better for his country and people . Since both sons are dead, I haven't given them a lot of thought lately, but as I recall, neither ever demonstrated any talents for doing more than getting wasted, commiting rape, downloading porn, or ordering brutality.

I am not pleading for or inviting speculation, or at least that was not my intent. Reduced to a single question, my intent is instead to ask is there any reasonable justification for the war in terms of compelling necessity or vital US national interest that in fact goes beyond speculation that at some unspecified future time, some credible need or interest would arise that could not be better dealt with if and when it arose, or prevented by means less costly to US interests. If so, what is this credible scenario and why was the invasion the best solution?

piscivorous
02-12-2008, 07:24 PM
yes I agree there will be extraneous articles in all searches just as all searches that look for an exact phrase that contains two or more words will inherently mis a great number of searches that are relevant. The search string "nixon's" "war" vietnam", essentially forcing the result set to return that must contain all 3 words returns 340,000 articles. Of course we could use any number of search strings and only a subset will be relevant.

piscivorous
02-12-2008, 07:50 PM
Regarding the Iraqi military, yes, I think we have seen demonstrated clearly that its abilities to attack its neighbors were somewhat limited, and that its ability to threaten the US was essentially nonexistant. I am asking what then was the immediate threat to the US that represented a reasonable cause to attack? Given the facts as we know them today, not the intelligence that was presented and discussed, by not just us by most if not all of the worlds major intelligence services and their respective leaders in 2002 through early 2003 there was sufficient concern such that a significant majority of the US electorate supported the Iraqi action. It is much easier to play Monday morning quarterback than to be the one that has to make actually make decisions real time on the basis of the information that is on hand. I am then asking what a credible timeframe would be for Saddam to develop any greater threat, and whether or not it was likely that he would have been able to do so from scratch in the remainder of his regime. I am also questioning whether there is reason to believe that even with lessening of sanctions the international community would not still have provided restrictions that at the very minimum slowed any development of nuclear capability by Saddam's Iraq. Perhaps the world would have but if my recollection is correct Secretary Powell tried to shift the focus of sanctions from one of general restrictions to, I think they called it "Smart Sanctions", similar to the sanction regimens we are currently using against North Korea and Iran, and was rebuffed out of hand. So I am not sanguine that such a scenario was doable or likely. As to which of his sons would be a "better" ruler, I have no idea, and I suspect "better" as you used it means better at maintaining power, and not better for his country and people . Since both sons are dead, I haven't given them a lot of thought lately, but as I recall, neither ever demonstrated any talents for doing more than getting wasted, commiting rape, downloading porn, or ordering brutality. Actually one of them did show considerable for being able to follow in his father's footprints, but since in July 22, 2003 we put a definitive end to that possibility, I likewise have not really spent much time dwelling on that matter. I am not pleading for or inviting speculation, or at least that was not my intent. Reduced to a single question, my intent is instead to ask is there any reasonable justification for the war in terms of compelling necessity or vital US national interest that in fact goes beyond speculation that at some unspecified future time, some credible need or interest would arise that could not be better dealt with if and when it arose, or prevented by means less costly to US interests. If so, what is this credible scenario and why was the invasion the best solution? See my answer to your the first section above.

cragger
02-12-2008, 08:57 PM
Pisc,

Man, your foot must be bad to be spending this much time on BHTV. Sorry to think that.

With your reply of:

Given the facts as we know them today, not the intelligence that was presented and discussed, by not just us by most if not all of the worlds major intelligence services and their respective leaders in 2002 through early 2003 there was sufficient concern such that a significant majority of the US electorate supported the Iraqi action. It is much easier to play Monday morning quarterback than to be the one that has to make actually make decisions real time on the basis of the information that is on hand.

I think you are being a little shifty here in your zeal to defend the attack. As I previously posted and as widely known, inspectors were going anywhere and everywhere they wanted in Iraq before the invasion, and reporting "no WMD". As noted in previously in BHTV episodes and otherwise in the press, the sites they were investigating included those pointed to by both the US intelligence and "Dick Cheney personal" integence agencies. How is it "Monday morning quarterbacking" to consider the months of actual on-the-ground facts coming out of the inspectors in Iraq before the US attack? What reasonable doubt is there that inspectors could have continued to check any and every building in the country under threat of force?

Perhaps the world would have but if my recollection is correct Secretary Powell tried to shift the focus of sanctions from one of general restrictions to, I think they called it "Smart Sanctions", similar to the sanction regimens we are currently using against North Korea and Iran, and was rebuffed out of hand. So I am not sanguine that such a scenario was doable or likely.

Given that you have been so bold as to question others on not addressing the point made, I again ask - so what is the credible threat, and in what credible timeframe would it emerge and why was an immediate invasion the best response?

Regarding your final response of linking to previous posts about democracy promotion, it seems to refute your other arguments that the war was about WMD or any other direct threat, but was part of a desire to produce "Iraq, the model" of democracy as a shining example to the Middle East since democracy in the region would be a rather more diffuse advantage to the US.

Doesn't this argument attemp to make an end run around the whole issue, and substitute a new and ever-changing rationale for the war once each succsssive justification has proved false? No offense meant, since this characteristic is hardly unique to you, but it seems in this case to reflect a stand beginning with "Bush and the war are right" and then proceed through everchanging rationalizations as to why that might be so.

The claim that the Bush and company are so committed to democracy that the unprecedented step of chosing to go to war absent any immediate and compelling US need is justified since it will produce a shiny happy long term result?

Since that claim seems to concede that there was no "conventional" justification for war as used throughout history, or your on others' previous posts on the Iraq war, and that the imminent threat and WMD arguments were neither necessary nor sufficient, I have to admit that I have yet to hear any remotely believable argument that the war was due to the folks in power being so dazzled by the wonders of democracy. I will leave aside the issue, on which books will undoubtedly be written, of their evident contempt for democracy here and address simply the issue in the Middle East.

If Bush et. al. really wanted to establish a democratic model in the Mid East, there was no need whatsoever to start a war to do so. It hasn't been that long since George I launched a war to put the Emir of Kuwait back on the throne. The US military was already by far the most powerful force in Kuwait. If "we" really wanted to set up a model democracy to show the poor benighted folks in the Middle East the benefits, since they evidently didn't see these benefits looking at the degenerate US where Britney Spears made videos (come on, grant me this much snark), it would have been trivial, and cost not a million $US let alone a trillion, to tell the Emir and his family to take a few suitcases of cash from the Kuwaiti treasury and go back to being playboys in the five star hotels and cassinos of Europe or else. We could have set up Kuwait however we wanted with no invasion, no cost, blah blah blah, no?

Is this the best remaining argument for the war being reasonable and just? Not an imminent threat, not a credible future threat that could not be better addressed by other means. Its all about some idealistic belief that its all worth it to establish "democracy" in Iraq, but of course not in Kuwait?

Is it hard to see that this argument seems like pretty thin soup? Is that as good as it gets?

piscivorous
02-12-2008, 09:29 PM
While I will argue the facts I have stated numerous times in comments here that I really didn't give a shit whether Iraq had WMDs and it played little consideration in my supporting the invasion. It just aggravates me when individuals think they can substitute a meme for reality and hope that if they repeat it long enough and loud enough it will be accepted as conventional wisdom and therefore the "truth." In those two comments I have addressed nearly every issue you raise here so I'm not sure that there is further need to say more.

P.S. I'm so fickle even here after a whole 5 minutes I have changed my mind and will add one little thing Miliband: UK has moral duty to intervene (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/feb/12/foreignpolicy.iraq). From the ever nonconservative source The Gaurdian no less.

TwinSwords
02-12-2008, 10:11 PM
It just aggravates me when individuals think they can substitute a meme for reality and hope that if they repeat it long enough and loud enough it will be accepted as conventional wisdom and therefore the "truth."
Yes, it aggravated me, too, when Bush/Cheney and their media enablers did that with the WMD argument, and the Al Qaeda-Iraq connection argument. Or with the tax cuts increase revenues argument, or the global warming denials. Rush Limbaugh's entire program is 3 hours a day of substituting memes for reality and repeating it long and loud enough that it is accepted as convention wisdom.

Pisc: Pretty much everything you believe falls in that category.



P.S. I'm so fickle even here after a whole 5 minutes I have changed my mind and will add one little thing Miliband: UK has moral duty to intervene (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/feb/12/foreignpolicy.iraq). From the ever nonconservative source The Gaurdian no less.
Of what significance is the political orientation of the paper reporting Miliband's speech? Did you think they only reported news made by liberals? I really can't understand the mental course you follow to believe you are making any kind of point at all by observing that the Guardian is not "the ever nonconservative source."

piscivorous
02-12-2008, 10:29 PM
Yes, it aggravated me, too, when Bush/Cheney and their media enablers did that with the WMD argument, and the Al Qaeda-Iraq connection argument. Or with the tax cuts increase revenues argument, or the global warming denials. Rush Limbaugh's entire program is 3 hours a day of substituting memes for reality and repeating it long and loud enough that it is accepted as convention wisdom.

Pisc: Pretty much everything you believe falls in that category.I'm so glad that you can through the either of the electromagnetic spectrum generate by the bytes and bits carried across the Internet have once again reveled my innermost thoughts and beliefs to yet another. I will be sure and add you to my list of individuals that know me so intimately.



Of what significance is the political orientation of the paper reporting Miliband's speech? Did you think they only reported news made by liberals? I really can't understand the mental course you follow to believe you are making any kind of point at all by observing that the Guardian is not "the ever nonconservative source." None really it just felt good to type it.